In search of Miss Vero
Internet blogs have had a growing impact on American society since the beginning of this decade, and as daily newspapers fade from the scene, blogs increasingly are becoming a source of local news and information. Over the past year, one local blog
– Miss Vero’s Beach House (www.missverosbeachhouse.com) – has gained a serious following with its “irreverent look at all things Vero.” Regular readers include members of the City Council, County Commission and other influentials. Among those receiving the least reverential treatment has been the Press Journal, which mounted a major effort (thus far unsuccessful) to identify Miss Vero. We believe a big part of the charm of this blog is the aura of mystery that surrounds Miss Vero. She could be (and often is) standing next to a subject she writes about with that person never realizing it. In the following article, our Michelle Genz profiles the ethereal Miss Vero, and describes how her blog is impacting Vero Beach.
The gilded fuchsia sash still hangs from the canopy on her bed, swaying against the ball fringe in the breeze off the ocean: “Miss Vero, 1962.” A pink sapphire tiara from the same heart-stopping moment rests on her vanity. So overwhelmed was this head-turning blonde at her small town’s biggest honorific that she kept her pageant poses and her pin-up figure and never let her title go:
She has forever hence been known as simply Miss Vero.
So it was that 20 years later, her cohorts at Sortir Chaque Soir, a selfstyled support group for a cluster of friends with an intractable codependency involving dressing up each night in party clothes and heading to area lounges, decided to do an intervention. They hung a flashing neon sign on her Riomar cottage, its tube twisted into curlicue font: “Miss Vero’s Beach House.”
Miss Vero had always been by far the most dependent of the Sortettes, as they called themselves. The hope was that seeing the sign on her own domicile, she would somehow be encouraged to think of her home as a destination, and stay in once in a while.
An elaborate arrangement of wiring connected to her garage door opener would simultaneously raise the door for her 1962 T-bird convertible (a present from one of her many adoring suitors), set off the stacked CDs of Nancy Sinatra at full volume, and switch on the outlet for the Chinese lanterns strung stem to stern through the lanai.
Redolent with liquor spills allowed to mellow at the rear edge of the kitchen counter, the Beachhouse would lock her down like a magnet. Miss Vero could theoretically pull in from Publix, unload her vermouth, her two-liter Schweppes tonic waters and her maraschino cherries, and settle in to take her cocktails on the divan in her own domestic dive, a soupcon of stability she had never shown.
It has not worked as planned. Instead, Miss Vero has come to see the Beachhouse not as a bar but as a luxurious suite of offices, albeit post-office party. To that end, she has added her own touch: a perpetual stack of circular plastic trays of olive pimento loaf and other cold cuts in her freezer, and a sheetcake or two with generic greetings amidst blue icing roses.
Those trays are her post-Martini sustenance as she fuels herself in the journalistic frenzy that generates a daily blog that has become the rage of Vero’s cognoscenti, the eponymous missverosbeachhouse. com, that explodes in cogent bursts from an alcohol haze, as though somehow as she lit her 30th Menthol More of the evening, she accidentally flicked her engraved Zippo too close to her brain.
Yes, this creativity had to come in the dark of night. But in all the places Miss Vero has resided, none had nights as dark as Vero’s. Or as long. Mornings, though relentlessly near from her perspective, used to come after a long shift of citywide slumber that began with the slamming of the window at the Taco Bell drive-thru.
Now, Miss Vero, returning from her incognito tour of what passes for bars in Vero Beach, typically settles in around 2 am for a hard day’s work at the office. Miss Vero’s Beachhouse.
One astonishing year later, Miss Vero is Wag Royale; she goes at it with a vengeance and a sizeable degree of journalistic diligence. She wrings a retro tone of Southern gossip out of modern day Vero Beach news, overlaid with a ‘60s sensibility of smart, preening, careening fauxditsiness, Amy Sedaris-style.
From the courthouse, the county commission, the police blotter, the network of Sortettes’ cellphone speed-dials, and the endless trove of goodies excreted by the local press, she cobbles together a column nearly every day.
When her social life gets in the way, she hands a day off to a handful of other similarly pseudonymous writers, including one Max Newport (a conservative), Viviene Von Voot (a young single woman), LDouglas (an environmentalist), the eccentric Countess du Roseland (making infrequent yet memorable appearances), and anyone else who hits a nerve with her and whose IQ is a solid smackdown above the village norm.
Slowly she is maturing into a mollifying presence as well. This paper recently published a less than glowing review of one of Miss Vero’s wellblogged destinations, Undertow restaurant in the mainland’s downtown (“The Epicenter of Cool,” as she calls it).
The fan base of Kitty Wagner, Undertow’s plucky chef/owner, reared up and wrote in to Miss Vero. The review was angrily contradicted by the desperately single Viviene Von Voot, who drops to her knees in gratitude for any non-cyber dating space in town. A slew of similarly grateful fans wrote in, and one took out a full page ad in last week’s paper in support of Undertow.
Miss Vero put out the flames by alternately lauding and rebuffing both the place and the reviewer. In so doing, whether she realizes it or not, Miss Vero is erecting a third bridge that cyber-spans beachside and downtown. With time, it may well be a regular route for an increasing number of residents both mainland and beachside following her diverse idea of fun.
Her interest in small-town politics takes a similar cross-lagoonal attitude. She regularly turns up at town meetings and visits from congressmen, and during the last election period, she lent an equally attentive ear to underdogs and frontrunners alike.
She also urges participation. A post in February promoted the visit of the area’s new congressman, Bill Posey, and in the process mocked the local daily paper for urging Vero residents to see him in Brevard County, though it had already announced he was coming to Vero. Then she made it all seem like a delightful thing for a girl to do.
“Miss Vero has spent many hours in the offices of our nice Florida Congressmen and women over the years and we can tell y’all that once you go up to Washington or Tallahassee and plop yourself on their nice fluffy couches and settees and introduce yourself properly, hunnies they take notice! Heck, Miss Vero has made herself known to these folks for so long, we remember when Claude Pepper was a teenager!”
And when a meeting of the Indian River Taxpayers Association loomed, she begged off, “fearful of being overcome with extreme boredom.” Nevertheless, she sent in an anonymous stand-in, dubbed Secret Squirrel, who reported back in vignette form.
Nurses threatening strikes at the hospital; the saga of baseball and Dodgertown; Piper layoffs – these are all grist for the bloggers of MissVeros- BeachHouse.com. And, oh year, the local newspaper, the Press Journal.
An entry last month: “..The biggest beef with the local press is that they too often pick and choose their news, their views and their perspective on Vero Beach. Please, we all beg, just do a better job. Lalalalalalalalalalalala, we can’t hear you, replies the PJ!”
She goes on: “Let’s not forget, that the PJ picked and chose which stories to tell us, about which candidates they were influenced by. Yup, the tradition of good ole bubba politics was well honored in our local races. Just ask Kay Clem. Oh and Tom White. Did I forget Bob Solari? Did Debbie Mayfield resign yet? Is Jeff Barton retired? How Claudia Jimenez and Kevin Sawnick squeaked in, we’ll never know…. We also suspect, that the PJ’s unjust treatment and reports of Mr. Ken Daige, lead to the continued installation of the scissor toting Mr. Tom White (said scissors recently relinquished to the new mayor, Mr. Sabe Abell).
“Were we surprised to see the Dodgers pack up and go, not to be replaced? Nope. In fact we got word from an incredibly reliable source and told y’all in our Nov. 9th post “Would Y’all Like Another Scoop?”
“Piper laying off workers?” If you’ve lived in Vero Beach longer than Russ Lemmon or for that matter, longer than some politicians, you’d know that this was inevitable. In fact we mention this in our very first post April 30th, “A Blog is Born.“
“So yes, we could continue on and on about the past, but that is not to our liking. No hunnies, Miss Vero never looks back, as fun as it may be and as much as we luuuuuvvvvvvv to say “we told y’all so!” Miss Vero would like to focus on the future, so here it is...”
“Miss Vero’s Beach House will continue to let folks speak about what is on their minds and will initiate conversations that our local newspaper seems to overlook. It is Miss Vero’s sincere belief that we are not ‘bullying’ the local media… rather we are prodding them to actually do their job.
And lest things get too intellectual, Miss Vero knows to toss a little grenadine in the vodka rocks. Locally appearing drag queens are a favorite distraction, as well as a way to bring support to the gay community “so far underground in Vero that they should consider applying for membership in the mine workers union,” she says.
Florida authors signing at the Book Center have become fans and link to her blog. Off-center plays at Riverside are attended and reviewed, while various bars on both beach and mainland become “ports in the pleasantly warm tropical storm” of her social life.
As the blog approaches its oneyear anniversary, Miss Vero’s fan base is expanding. She continues to retain her anonymity (despite a reported investigative meeting of Press Journal executives and columnists eager to identify her), and the slowly expanding circle of those who have come to know her keep her identity close to the vest.
Those who understand the significance of her effort – as yet not monetized, by the way – prefer to play along too. Inquiries belie the cool she portrays in her blog’s motto: “Miss Vero is one who doesn’t take life too seriously and wishes more people would just get over their silly selves.”
To celebrate the big day a year ago, May 1, when the first post was made to the blog, Miss Vero’s Beachhouse will throw open its doors to a theme party based on one of Miss Vero’s favorite foreign films, King of Hearts, a 1966 French anti-war comedy starring Alan Bates sent in to rescue from the Germans a town populated by escapees of the local insane asylum.
Miss Vero has left a confidential list with Ziggy, the bartender at Undertow, for guests to claim a character: in the film, the lunatics are dressed as prostitutes, popes and circus performers. Miss Vero has been fine-tuning her figure with private Zumba lessons with Chershay Lamour from the Clubhouse, and believes she will fit perfectly into the yellow tutu and fishnets that Genevieve Bujold wore in the film.
Invitations handwritten by Miss Vero herself have gone out to a select list of male revelers put together by local authorities, the news release of which became the local paper’s ersatz society column on New Year’s Eve.
Meanwhile, an Epicenter of Cool insider has it that Ziggy’s list reveals that a local columnist fancies himself as the Alan Bates character, and has already rented his kilt.
Miss Vero brushes off any interest in peeking for underpinnings; throwing back the last of a midday Manhattan, she says the unnamed columnist has shown his assets too many times already. Some things are best left to the imagination.
Like Miss Vero.