Last night crowds headed to the Jackie Gleason theater for a flamenco concert while, across the street, opera lovers set up lawn chairs in the park for the night's wallcast. (The electronic message board in the glass portion of the New World Center announced the film version of Othello.)
On Lincoln Road, diners filled the sidewalk cafe of Five Napkin Burger and, down the street, a gaggle of runners pulled on water bottles. I walked east, heading past a miniature neon pizza to the greater neon - half-story palm trees and undulating waves - of Alvin's Island. With the animated neon of WINGS across the street, it looked like a seaside Times Square in miniature.
I walked into the National Hotel, did a tour of the Martini Room, and then proceeded out to the pool, the palm trees, a nearly full moon wafering the ocean.
Heading back I halted at the Cadet Hotel, where a plaque informed me that during World War II it had been the home of West Point Cadets under the command of Clark Gable. A large picture of the actor stood in the cool, compact, Art Deco lobby. It was like a room in a doll's house, a sanctuary in the whirl of South Beach.
By the time I crossed Washington Avenue the opera was nearly over. I stopped and watched the murder of Desdemona through the palms.