Shootout at Wadala: A Welcome Overdose of Bombay, Brutality, and “Bhai-giri”

Note: To those unfamiliar with names/events/terms specific to South Asian culture & gangland history, there is a glossary of terms in the post before this one. The word preceded by an asterisk  word will be elaborated upon in the entry ‘Glossary for SAW Movie Review.’

Whenever a novel or a portion of it is adapted onto celluloid, the book is always better 80 percent of the time. The same goes for last weekend’s release Shootout at Wadala which selectively draws from 65 pages of S. Hussain Zaidi’s book, Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia.

Upon viewing the first SAW trailer via YouTube and reading reports of factual inaccuracies, I dropped all hopes for a truthful adaptation. Wishing for an honest cinematic depiction of events remotely connected to the years *1992-1993 is like writing a long letter to Santa Claus.

Back in February I devoted a whole post regarding the authenticity of the second Shootout feature. Initially Director Sanjay Gupta claimed that the film contained no fictionalization, but stories citing former *ACP Isaque Bagwan’s disapproval of excessive dramatization prompted character name changes and a disclaimer before the start of the movie (which fortunately stated ‘the film is a hybrid of fact and fiction’). Therefore, I will not delve into the myth vs. reality facets of the motion picture. Read Dongri to Dubai and Mafia Queens of Mumbai if you want to separate the fact from flack.

The spectacle starts off with gangster Manya Surve (John Abraham) being thrown into the back of a police van after taking 11 bullets from Afaque Bagran (played by Anil Kapoor, modeled upon Bagwan). Thanks to his immense strength, Manya still has some endurance to converse with the ACP during his final moments. Through flashback, he narrates how a broken justice system coupled with unfortunate circumstances transformed him from a brilliant college student to a ruthless, cunning hoodlum. Bagran also recounts the raging gang warfare between the *‘Mastan’ syndicate and the *Haksar Brothers (Manoj Bajpai as Zubair and Sonu Sood as Dilawar) amidst the backdrop of the same corrupt justice system. The audience watches the story of how the very first encounter came to be from the perspective of two men on opposite sides of the law.

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SAW is not for the faint of heart as the colorful language, grandiose violence, and lewdness would even make Quentin Tarantino squeamish. While the obscene language will require adults to earmuff their kids, viewers will also be treated to the most eloquent lines that any thespian would die to deliver. Thereby, Milap Zaveri’s dialogues are alone worth the ticket price.

The stunt sequences choreographed by Tinu Verma and Allan Amin take you back to the action of the 80s minus the ridiculous sound effects and high flying antics. The sheer physicality and violent blood baths have become staples of Sanjay Gupta films. Do not go into the theater expecting anything less.

The screenplay is fast-paced but it lacks the in depth analytical examination of the Mumbai Underworld featured in the 11 chapters from the source material. Although Surve’s image as Bombay’s first educated gangster is highlighted, his status as “Mumbai’s Hadley Chase” is completely ignored. Through inspiration from James Hadley Chase books, this Master Strategist robbed money from a government milk scam and plotted the assassination of the stealthiest Dons. Then again with SAW being a commercial flick for the masses, the tactician attribute of Manya’s personality would not resonate with every moviegoer.

Sanjay Gupta does a fabulous job of recreating the seedy Mumbai of the 70s and 80s. A grittier and comparatively realistic interpretation of the underworld’s formative years was long overdue for hardcore crime fiction buffs. He has done away with the awesome yet fantasized renditions of the mafia, a la Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. The slick editing (Bunty Nagi) and cinematography (Sameer Arya) make for some visually appealing cinema.

The performances will bring tough competition at numerous awards ceremonies next year. John Abraham has catapulted himself to the big leagues with his explosive portrayal of Manya Surve. Action Abraham puts his money where his mouth was when he compared his acting to that of Sanjay Dutt’s in Vaastav. Anil Kapoor offers the most powerful yet nuanced performance and he shows why he is still around. Sonu Sood is fantastic and really shines in the second half. Earlier Manoj Bajpai declared that he did not put much work into his role. That should come as no surprise as he naturally sinks into the skin of Zubair Imtiaz Haksar.

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Even though Tushar Kapoor enacts his part with gusto, he just does not physically fit the bill of *Sheikh Munir with his boyish looks. His role was tailor made for someone like Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Kangana Ranaut delivers a controlled performance as the object of Manya’s affections. Ronit Roy, Sanjeev Chadha, Siddhanth Kapoor, Karan Patel, Raju Mavani, and Raju Kher lend able support. The music is definitely memorable but the risqué item songs are totally redundant. Only one item number was necessary but as always, nothing sells like sex these days.

Whether you reside in Jersey City, NJ or Dadar, Mumbai, head to the nearest theatre to catch this compelling fare which offers a cinematic take on history. Aside from the truth which was promised awhile back, you cannot ask for more from this flick. A third Shootout film installment based on the incident that turned one of Mumbai’s premier hospitals into a mafioso warzone seems inevitable. Shootout at JJ Hospital? Bring it on!

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Glossary for SAW Movie Review

Hi everyone, when I wrote my very first entry for UW, a dear friend of mine suggested the idea of a glossary for certain names, events, and terms unfamiliar to those with minimum knowledge of South Asian culture/gangland history.

Since a lot of foreign names and references will fly over many heads, I decided to write a mini-glossary of sorts that provides background to readers. As you read my Shootout at Wadala review, there will be asterisks before certain terms which may throw a few people off.

*1992-1993 – A very dark period of Indian history which bought into question whether India was really a secular democracy. The politically motivated demolition of a Mosque in North India triggered Hindu-Muslim riots all the way down to Mumbai in 1992 (the riots in Slumdog Millionaire where Jamal loses his mother were inspired by this occurence).  Since the instigators of such blood baths were never bought to justice, some prominent stalwarts of the underworld took it upon themselves to dispense their unnecessary draconian brand of justice by planning the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts. Dawood Ibrahim was believed to have provided logistical support to smuggle the RDX into the city for that. Read another Hussain Zaidi authored book, Black Friday for more on this or watch the film adaptation.

*ACP Isaque Bagwan – In 1983, the Assistant Commisioner of Police Isaque Bagwan spearheaded the first ever extra-judicial killing. He was the one at the helm of the encounter where Manya Surve was killed.

*Mastan – The filmmakers could not explictly call the gang with which Dawood Ibrahim and co. were at war with ‘Pathan.’ Pathans are a major immigrant community with roots in Pushtu speaking areas of Afghanistan. They came to India during the many Muslim invasions of the 11th and 12 centuries. Pathan’s are known for being proud and sensitive about their family honor and self-respect. While I do not mean to generalize/stereotype, they were the original players in the seedy underworld.

According to People’s Groups India:

“Revenge and blood feuds between families lasting generations are common owing to this strict code of honor, known as Pakhtunwali.”

*Haksar Brothers – This is the alternative surname for the real life Kaskar brothers (Sabir Ibrahim Kaskar and Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar). Many people refer to Dawood (the Biblical Christian equivalent for that name is David) as the underdog David who was deemed courageous to take on the mighty Goliaths of the Mumbai underworld, the Pathans. The SAW brass was smart to refer to the Pathans and Kaskar brothers  instead as Mastans and the Haksar Brothers respectively. If the original names were kept, gang wars in Mumbai would be revived and certain individuals on whom many characters were modeled would be angered.

Making Up for some Lost Time

Hi all! Many apologies for the gap between my last post and the current one.

Although the last two weeks seemed like the perfect time to drop my two cents about recent world affairs, I instead felt the need to listen first and sound off later. Whether it was the tragic Boston bombings or the Maple Leafs making the playoffs (cue the theories of how the Leafs’ success is a sign of Judgment Day), their aftermaths have been bringing about several new developments.

Due to a roster with minimal playoff experience and Boston’s game 1 victory, the realistic oracle in me foresees a Bruins triumph. I sincerely hope that the Leafs use their sticks to bash my crystal ball by winning the first round. GO LEAFS GO !

“God gave us two ears and one mouth, which one(s) are you going use more?”

With the bombings though, certain politicians could not wait one week after the tragedy before regurgitating their respective parties’ talking points on terrorism. When newly elected Liberal Party leader, Justin Trudeau, was asked about how he would respond to the Marathon attacks, he said he would offer the Americans material support while exploring the root causes that prompted the heinous act. Obviously the conservative Mr. Prime Minister had to chime in by retorting “when you see this kind of violent act, you do not sit around trying to rationalize it or make excuses for it or figure out its root causes.”

It is almost like the media basically set those two up for a schoolyard fight by asking the first question. Speaking of schoolyard fight, is there any difference between the media and the kids who chant ‘FIGHT! FIGHT!’ during a tense stand-off between two middle-school boys? Why didn’t JT wait a week before sharing his post-mortem report by just solely mentioning the material support aspect?

Doing so would have turned him into a lightning rod for foolish criticisms like “Trudeau is clearly showing his lack of resolve by not agreeing to answer let alone tackle such questions readily if a bomb went off in Montreal.”

It would not be ‘politically’ astute for him to neglect his emphasis on the roots of terrorism after the tragedy. Had he not proclaimed his stance on terrorism, JT would probably come off as more concerned about the Bostonians rather than an official who wants to appeal to his base. Plus, he also could have framed his answer in a way that would condemn the attacks and show his resilient leadership minus the politics.

Regardless of your stance Trudeau’s call for the root cause analysis, did he have to make the statement veer into political territory just three days after the attack? As usual, it was even harder for PM Harper to remain mum as silence would not help him rouse the CPC base. Hoping that politicians dial back their partisanship for one week after any calamity is clearly wishful thinking.

“Pain is temporary, film is forever” – Michael J. Fox

Anyhow, I guess it is time to find temporary refuge from all that is going on in the world through good old Bollywood escapism. Yes I am watching gangster flick Shootout at Wadala tonight so watch out for my review! Even though my last two posts were Desi-movie centric, I do not intend to make that the norm.

On a totally different note, I caught a midnight screening of Iron Man 3 and was thoroughly entertained. Those of you going to see it this weekend, stick around after the end credits to see Tony Stark and a fellow Avenger.

Happy Friday everyone : )

Commando: Stylized Random Violence at it’s Best

This past Friday I realized I no longer need to re-watch the Rambo movies to vicariously relive the 80s/90s. Nor do I have to sit through noble but overcooked attempts to revive such awesome cinema (cough cough, The Expendables).

Besides the past two Die Hard movies which kept the fading genre alive, nothing has come close to recreating the magic found in high-octane 80s/90s action movies. Alas I decided to check out Commando. No, not the fantastic Schwarzenneger-starrer.

Instead I am referring to the new Bollywood release whose trailer got me nostalgic and excited. With the presence of Force villain Vidyut Jamwal and Jaideep Ahlawat from Gangs of Wasseypur, it was natural to expect competent action and performances. Besides, as much as I was anticipating the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, I needed a break from baseball after the Blue Jays’ dismal Opening Week.

The story follows Captain Karanvir Dogra (Vidyut Jamwal) after his army jet crashes into the Chinese territory during a routine training. He then becomes a prisoner of the Chinese government as they assume he is an Indian spy. Karanvir protests that his arrival on Sino territory was due to an accident during a routine flight, not because he was sent by the Indian government to infiltrate China. Due to the absence of the crash wreckage, the Chinese brand him a spy to embarrass the Indian Government. Instead of shedding the false label that Dogra is a spy through substantial evidence, the Indian Defense Minister also decides to play politics by wiping out every record of the elite Commando’s existence. After suffering as a prisoner for a year, Karan then escapes by crossing into Himachal Pradesh from the Lepcha Border.

Upon entering Punjab from Himachal Pradesh he saves the talkative Simrit (Pooja Chopra) from A.K. Singh’s (Jaideep Ahlawat) thugs. A.K. is the head of a political mafia that oppresses its constituents. Forcibly marrying a girl from a respectable family, Simrit, would do wonders for his rising political career. When finding out that the men after Simrit are of immense political stature, Karan decides to make Simrit’s battle his own. This is because the type of public official who left Karan to rot in China usually begins his political career as a tyrannical criminal. Hence, by defeating A.K. he feels the corrupt system can slowly be cleansed. Plus the fact that the Police only guarantee the safety of such thugs and not people they oppress further motivates Dogra. How the hero rescues the damsel in distress and her tyrannized town forms the rest of the story.

First off, Commando is a movie for die-hard action fans. While there are some political overtones, it is not Doug Liman’s Green Zone. This film is perfect for a bro-out session so keep your wives and girlfriends away. If they can digest Chinese torture tactics and gruesome combat, by all means this would be the perfect date movie.

The stunts done by Jamwal, the dialogues, and slick direction more than make up for the predictable plot. However, there is nothing wrong selling the same goods in a different package especially since nothing like this has been attempted in Indian cinema. Clearly the Director grew up on a steady diet of Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenneger movies. While in Hollywood this genre is barely surviving, the Screenwriter and Director deserve props for making the old new again.

The real technical star of the film is Cinematographer Sejal Shah who makes the rural locales, jungles, and great stunts visually enticing. Action Director Franz Spilhaus’s stunt coordination and fight sequences are second to none. Don’t believe me? Just watch the trailer above. With the exception of the Daler Mehndi song, the music and background score are not all catchy.

As for the performances, Vidyut Jamwal shows why Producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah has banked on him for the second time. His acting is praiseworthy as he effortlessly encompasses both the hard and soft sides of Karanvir Dogra. Jaideep Ahlawat is simply flawless as the creepy and sadistic A.K. He holds his own against an already mainstream star; much like Jamwal did in Force against John Abraham. Debutante Pooja Chopra will either evoke memories of the chatty Basanti from Sholay or she will come off as irritating to some. The supporting cast does its job aptly. Jagat Rawat as A.K.’s right hand man M.P. and Sohrab Handa as Simrit’s father are superb.

After being the one who could stand eye to eye with Action Abraham in Force, Vidyut Jamwal has set the bar high for Desi action heroes. With the ability of Tony Jaa and the suaveness of Jason Statham, VJ is here to stay. Do not miss Commando if you call yourself a true action buff!

How to Gain a Filthy Awesome Literary Experience from Mohsin Hamid (for the third time)

Spoiler Alert: This post contains a few plot details from The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

*Desi – term that refers to people from South Asia, namely India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh

As the sun rises in the east and arguably dwindles in the west, South Asian youth would be blind not to see the opportunities Rising Asia throws in front of their eyes. Fading are the times where ambitious *Desi youth yearned to pursue one of the North American Dreams or infest the lands (and airports) of the British .

In this rags-to-riches narrative, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, the nameless city of prosperity which could be Karachi or Mumbai is a mere 2-4 hour bus ride away from our opportunistic hero’s rural village. A city in which the have-nots are slowly becoming the soon to haves.

Through the same second person narrator voice used in The Reluctant Fundamentalist, author Mohsin Hamid lets us wear the hat of one of the pivotal characters of his latest book. In TRF, the protagonist Changez referred to the foreign visitor in the Lahore café as ‘you.’ The reader was placed in the position of the American visitor conversing with him. The reader/visitor listens to Changez share his story about why he returned to Pakistan to become a debatably dogmatic professor after renouncing his life as a glamorous Wall Street executive. As the professor walks the foreigner back to his hotel, the visitor reaches into his pocket for a shiny metallic object. Then the novel abruptly ends.

The cliffhanger ending implicitly permits the reader to decide what that object was. Some claimed it to be a fancy business card holder while others believed it was a gun. Depending on your opinions of Changez’s decisions and the evolution/degradation of his beliefs, you have the final say in Changez’s fate. If you sympathized with him, the metallic object could have been that business card holder. If you absolutely despised what he had become, you could be an undercover spy disguised as a tourist sent to put a bullet in the extremist professor’s head.

While you and the principal character are synonymous in How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, nothing is left to your discretion nor can you cater the unnamed protagonist’s fate to your own ideals. Consequently Hamid is candid in outlining the 12 lessons you need to go from being a have-not to a have it all. Each lesson below takes the form of a chapter listed below. They are certainly not meant to be satirical but rather instructive.

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The writing is brutally direct like the cut-throat environment in which the central character has to brave. Even if the reader may not be underprivileged, the author wants you to experience the harsh struggles and realities (financial and political) that motivate the have-nots to better themselves. Hence, Hamid constantly reminds us that to succeed in rising Asia you must have the same fire that fuels the economically disadvantaged even if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. Therein lies Mohsin Hamid’s brilliant ability to make us root for the novel’s hero since we are absorbed into the soul of this cunning underdog.

Many comparisons have been drawn between How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and The Great Gatsby as they share common elements such as the pursuit of material wealth, damsel in distress, and spiritual symbolism. For those familiar with F. Scott Key Fitzgerald’s literary gem, remember the pair of bespectacled eyes on the decrepit Billboard which symbolized God’s judging eyes towards society? Likewise in Hamid’s novel, there is a drone satellite that circles around the city skyline which possibly represents the high tech omnipresence of god.

Naturally, Mohsin Hamid’s powerful verbiage is evident through Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. However, the ‘self-help’ aspect of this book definitely draws from management thinkers who emphasize on political skill instead of talent. Those fond of idealism-bashing management gurus such as Jeffrey Pfeffer will definitely enjoy this piece of literature. For instance the first paragraph in the chapter ‘Be Prepared to Use Violence’ highlights the Darwinian aspect of capitalism:

“Distasteful though it may be, it was inevitable in a self-help book such as this, that we would eventually find ourselves broaching the topic of violence. Becoming filthy rich requires a degree of unsqueamishness, whether in rising Asia or anywhere else. For wealth comes from capital, and capital comes from labor, and labor comes from equilibrium, from calories in chasing calories out, an inherent, in-built leanness, the leanness of biological machines that must be to your will with some force if you are to loosen your own financial belt and, sighingly expand.”

Also, the chapter ‘Avoid Idealists’ is sure to evoke nods from those who believe that mainstream leadership/management literature offers unrealistic guidance. According to these realists, such guidance is embellished with rosy spin on how conditions should be during the journey to success instead of how they are. It is that peachy outlook towards human nature which can destroy you in Rising Asia. That’s why Hamid is justified in stomping on the rose-tinted sunglasses through which the reader may or may not view the world.

The only complaint I have from this book is that Mohsin Hamid deviates from his clear-cut tone in that very chapter. That chapter is not solely about staying away from those who live life according to how things should be. The first paragraph reads:

“Surely ideals, transcending as they do puny humans and repositing meaning in abstract concepts instead are by their very nature anti-self? It follows that any self-help book advocating allegiance to an ideal is likely to be a sham. Yes, such self-help books are numerous and yes, it’s possible some of them do help a self, but more often than not, the self they help is the writers self , not yours. So you’d do well to stay away, particularly if getting filthy rich tops your list of priorities.”

The ‘self help book advocating allegiance to an ideal’ diplomatically refers to any religious text. Religion is sometimes the sole force that keeps someone from compromising their ethics when the moral compass no longer functions. For that reason, why could not Hamid just boldly tell the reader to refrain from religion? The book already offers strategic proposals that are either ways bound to make some uncomfortable. Maybe Hamid did not want to draw the ire of mullahs through the explicit suggestion of abandoning religion for the sake of affluence.

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On the whole, this book is definitely worth the time and money especially if you appreciate hard-hitting, succinct prose. Mohsin Hamid has definitely scored a hat trick with his third novel so I suggest you run to your nearest bookstore to buy this prospective bestseller.

Do you think How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia was a forgettable and insipid one time read? Feel free to tell me why or why not below.

Gentrification: The practice of displacing Indian slum dwellers AND below median income North Americans

Last week I was watching a news story about Mumbai-based social activist Medha Patkar’s stand against the Shivalik Builder’s Golibar slum demolition. A 13 year old cousin of mine who was watching along told me, “illegal slum demolition and displacement would never happen in a country like the United States where the government doesn’t disregard basic rights of its citizens by pandering to builders.”

Although my teenage cousin has yet to become world weary, I still felt the need to kindly refute his naive statement. Before explaining my reasons for disagreeing, I read a Fountain Ink piece by freelance journalist Javed Iqbal to find out what exactly transpired in Golibar, Mumbai. After reading the article, it is easy to draw parallels between the Golibar slum gentrification and a more tactful version of the practice I observed in the Washington D.C. area.

American developers (or builders as they are referred to in India) are just as guilty of leaning on state/local governments so their construction projects can see the light of day. In India the removal of poor residents obstacles for the builder’s ambitious structures is done by overtly dubious means. However, American developers resort to more sophisticated methods rather than forced expulsion.

If politics is the business of building bridges where there are no rivers, construction is the act of using politics to erect properties where people already maintain their humble abodes. The Indian builders’ methods range from public land grabbing to forced removal with the help of political figures. The ones displaced by the builders are the very helpless voting constituents of these politicians. On the other hand, destroying an occupied residential complex to coerce eviction would not fly well in a North American law and order landscape. Hard evidence of outright forgery and land grabbing supported by public officials would prompt instant legal action against the perpetrators. It has been established by the Indian citizenry that the construction-politics nexus exists to the detriment of many. In the western world, the construction-politics cabal is not referred to as such. It is diplomatically deemed as a public-private partnership of sorts.

Outside of D.C. in the town of Alexandria, the more politically correct brand of gentrification is underway through the Beauregard Redevelopment Plan. In May 2012 the predominantly Democratic Alexandria City council unanimously voted to let developers who own 5,000 apartments to demolish half of them in order rebuild more pricey living quarters. With the rebuilt and more expensive residences, the remaining 2,500 apartments’ rents will increase due to the rising values of the new surrounding apartments. As a result of those higher property values, the leftover tenants cannot afford the elevated rents. Hence, they are gently forced to move out.

Soaring rents are intended spillover effects from the presence of plush apartments, healthy climates for upscale businesses, and mass transit projects that many developers lobby for. A single new high end apartment complex, fancy designer boutique, or local train stop is enough to boost surrounding property values in a low-income area. When politicians appropriate funds towards infrastructure (mass transit, improved roads, and etc.), they indirectly displace the low-income and minority population.

It is troubling that the Democratic council members are of the party which supposedly caters to the working class and minorities. Most of the 2009-2012 term council members promised to work with developers who plan new projects in providing affordable housing for current residents. Refer to the issues section on the websites of certain Alexandria city officials for their false assurances. Here are the respective links for Frank Fannon (D), Rob Krupicka (D), and Del Pepper (D). Is it not ironic that these champions of racial/socioeconomic diversity approved a redevelopment plan that will discreetly homogenize Alexandria? It is almost like they support cleansing of this caliber but do not want to admit it.

There is a stigma that the political right plays dirty politics to thwart government-funded ‘growth initiatives’ for transportation projects. The hyper partisan political climate (on local, state, and federal levels) has only further galvanized liberal coalitions to support these growth campaigns solely due to conservative opposition. The mainstream media paints conservatives as the party detrimental to the middle and lower class. While that is somewhat true, at least the right wingers have explicitly disclosed their intentions towards socioeconomic minorities. However, the left leaning council in Alexandria has subtly revealed to the public how they feel about minorities. Nevertheless, I commend former Independent Councilwoman Alicia Hughes since she abstained for the final Alexandria redevelopment vote.

There are those who mistakenly claim that gentrification is not about the haves kicking out the have-nots. To them as regions transform and economies gradually require college educated workers, gentrification will continue to occur in areas that Gen-Y wants to live in. They are of the mindset that if a local is concerned about being displaced, he/she should push their kids towards education. If the kids are well-educated, the children can afford to live in their childhood locality once their area undergoes gentrification.

To assume that locals do not place emphasis on their children’s’ education is a myopic fallacy.  Protester Veronica Carzava asserted during the Beauregard Tenants association candlelight vigil, “we’re fighting for the right to have a house to live in, I don’t know where we would go and I have two children, and they go to school here, and I want they [are] educated here.” If that is not proof of a local’s desire to educate his kids, I do not know what it is.

Regardless of the party affiliation of builders or the policy makers they lobby to, affected Alexandrians took to the streets to protest much like the hard working people in Golibar, Mumbai. Does this mean that all property developers and policy makers are out to remove minorities and below median income populations? Absolutely not. I am sure there are many builders around the world who kept their promises of rehabilitating those who were in some way affected by their lofty projects. Now that is what I call real development.

Still think there is little or no similarity between the construction-politics cabal and the public-private partnerships? Sound off below!

Dear Free Agents, sign with the Miami Marlins at your own risk

The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present. ~Niccolo Machiavelli

If immortality has many forms, Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is living proof that Nicolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli has achieved eternal life ideologically. About a week ago, Loria embarked on a damage control campaign to quell negative fan sentiment regarding Miami baseball since the November fire sale. Trying to unravel the spin from every statement of the Jeffrey Group’s (the newly hired PR firm by Marlins ownership) image restoration attempts is fruitless as: 1) Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan took the liberty of doing so, 2) the Marlins owner mints money from the art dealing business riddled with swindlers, and 3) the Montreal Expos are no more.

Reading Jeff Loria’s open letter addressed to fans through rose tinted sunglasses will turn even the most naïve South Floridian into a cynic. Besides fans and taxpayers, prominent casualties of the owner’s scam include Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and the team’s ability to acquire talent via free agent pools. The speedster and finesse pitcher signed with the team under the impression that Miami would be their home for the long haul. According to the two, both were told that verbal reassurances (not written ones in the form of no-trade clauses) from Loria were enough to guarantee their stability. Little did the four time all stars the owner would trade them away, despite promising to not send them to another team.

"You asked if a quadruple A team will take the field in a $2.4 billion stadium funded by your tax money? With a handshake promise, I assure you that will not happen on my watch."

“You asked if a quadruple A team will take the field in a $2.4 billion stadium funded by your tax money? With a handshake promise, I assure you that will not happen on my watch.”

While this whole trade fiasco is water under the bridge for Reyes and Buehrle, Loria has just torpedoed any hope of acquiring or retaining stars that deserve long term security. If ownership ever opens the vault to free agents, prospective players will think twice before setting foot on the red carpets rolled out for them at Marlins Park. With Jeffrey Loria’s reputation as the Machiavellian prince who never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise, Marlins fans can only hope for the Commissioner’s intervention. What are you waiting for Mr. Commissioner? Give this fraudster the Frank McCourt treatment already. On another slightly hypocritical note, thank you Bud Selig for approving the trade that ensured my Blue Jays were on the receiving end of the fire sale. You made my winter much more bearable. Go Jays Go!