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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

All of us who live in Florida struggle to explain this bizarre place to distant friends and family.

The task got somewhat easier after the 2000 presidential election, which showcased the state’s unique style of dysfunction to a vast international audience. Since then, people who live elsewhere seem not so easily mortified by anything that happens here.

Take the dreadful case of the naked cannibal.

I’d be willing to bet that in no other city but Miami would the following quote appear matter-of-factly in a crime story: “Rudy was not a face-eating zombie monster.”

Those words come from a high school friend of Rudy Eugene, who chewed the flesh off a homeless man’s face on Memorial Day weekend. Eugene first removed his own clothes and then tore off the trousers of his victim, 65-year-old Ronald Poppo.

The gruesome biting attack, reported by passers-by, took about 18 minutes. It didn’t end until Eugene was shot dead by a policeman and physically separated from the gravely injured Poppo.

All this occurred on a Saturday morning on a ramp of the MacArthur Causeway, practically within fast-break distance of the American Airlines Arena where the Miami Heat plays.

Naturally, the gory assault was captured on video by security cameras mounted on the Miami Herald building. And, naturally, it’s all over the Internet.

For a non-tabloid headline writer, the perverse facts of the crime make it almost impossible not to sensationalize. The case is grotesque even by the extreme standards of South Florida.

In my many years of working for the Herald, I can’t honestly recall anything quite so demented occurring in broad daylight at such a public location.

Numerous heinous crimes have a nude perpetrator or a nude victim, and occasionally both. At least one murder case I remember involved a grim bit of cannibalism. But the combination of nudity and cannibalism along a busy highway should be, well, shocking.

Which isn’t a word often heard when journalists who cover Miami get together and tell stories. People down here do things that are sick, warped, disgusting, twisted — but rarely shocking. Not anymore.

However, a zombie-like face-eating attack would be major news in any city. And had it happened in Des Moines or Spokane, the worldwide reaction would have been one of plain revulsion.

  • Mmmmmm! Tastes like chicken!!!

  • I wonder how the poor victim is? ? ?

  • howa4x

    This behavior come from takng a kind of bath salts internally. It gives great strength and PCP hallucinations

  • EdC

    Hiassen is a great author, I would advise anyone to read nhis books, but he isn’t the only one that has given us the Florida life style, Tim Dorsey , lawerance Sanders, and especially Dave Berry have sritten with Florida as their muse. And we know the storis are true, from the guys who wait for tourist to come out the car rental agencies, to rob and kill them, to the Travon martin case today. The following guy howa4x might be right about the cause, Dave Barry said it ws because the Misquetos were even big enough to carry guns, God anly knows, but for my money It is only a place to visit and that with an armed guard

    • I agree with you EdC about some of those other authors that I have read…I grew up in south Broward County…not far north of Miami…Dave Berry was my favorite…for seeing the bizarre reality & absurdity in south Florida…and making it comedy…to preserve his fellow residents’ & readers’ sanity…as much as was possible, that is…I became a fan of Elmore Leonard about 15 years ago…and have now read everything he’s written…I think…Many of his works had south Florida settings & well-known locales in them…because he divided his time between residencies here and in Detroit…and knew both areas and their types of people well…

  • ObozoMustGo

    I prefer my faces wrapped in bacon…. I’m just sayin..

    Have a nice day!

    • I hear you, man, that was NOT how i would describe an open-face sandwich!

      • ObozoMustGo

        Bwaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! ROFLMAO

        Have a nice day!

  • Florida is a strange place. There is a significant Latin community that doesn’t seem to understand things aren’t getting better because of the republican policies enacted by the republicans they continue to elect. It has a significant aging and retired population – yet its republicans that want them to pay more taxes and cut their medical benefits – but they keep voting republican. Republicans passed the “stand your ground” law, now 70% of all shooting use the law as a defense and killers walk away. Yeah, it’s a strange place where two men can be seen naked and one can be found to be eating the others face – literally, because people in Florida seem to like being abused.

  • Considering Carl’s novels, he really is the perfect man to have written this article.