Fall Lecture Series Examines ‘Beach Noir’

Wear black and white and find your fedora; get ready for the noir MDPL Fall Lecture Series and a look at seamier, steamier eras on Miami Beach.

“How Crime and Corruption Shaped Miami Beach” will be explored in four lectures:

  • Gambling: Tuesday, September 18th at 7 PM
  • Prohibition: Tuesday, October 2 at 7 PM
  • Drugs: Wednesday, October 24 at 7 PM
  • Miami Vice: Thursday, November 8 at 7 PM

The series kicks off with an historical survey of gambling in Miami Beach, from Carl Fisher’s opposition to the heyday of the S&G Syndicate, the Kefauver Committee’s opposition, today’s international interests and an attempt to predict the future.

Lecturer Abe Lavender. Ph.D., has been a professor of sociology at Florida International University for 22 years. A prolific author and civic activist, Dr. Lavender’s next book is “Miami Beach Beginnings: From Mangroves and Mosquitoes to Mansions and Millionaires.”

Miami Beach openly thumbed its nose at the 18th Amendment and maintained a healthy bootlegging industry from 1920 to 1933. Leading the October 2 discussion of prohibition’s impact on the Beach’s crime, culture and tourism is Seth Bramson, noted local historian and author of some 25 books on the South Florida Gold Coast.

Young, rash Miami producers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman bring the Miami Beach drug scene of the ’70s and ’80s to life on October 24. Their award-winning 2006 documentary, “Cocaine Cowboys,” did the same. They’ll recount stories of the rise of the cocaine industry on the Beach and the crashing crime wave that subsequently washed across America.

The final lecture on November 8 celebrates “Miami Vice,” the award-winning, game-changing TV series that helped put South Beach back on the map. Debuting in 1984, the series, about a pair of Miami vice cops was frequently shot in gritty locations on South Beach color-washed with neon, pastels and sex to add allure. It worked for the series and for Miami Beach. Graham Winick, Film and Event Production Manager for the City of Miami Beach will be leading this lecture.

All lectures are free and begin at 7 p.m. at the Art Deco Welcome Center, 1001 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach 33139. For information go to mdpl.org or call 305.672.2014.