MIAMI — Somewhere between the story of the man who got nailed by the Metrorail while hanging a Marlins banner on the track and the tale of a chef who bled out from a gunshot to the groin, Paul George will tell his audience about the “Miami cannibal.”
As the packed, air-conditioned tour bus crawls across the MacArthur Causeway, George will tell those on the “Mystery, Mayhem and Vice Coach” tour how Rudy Eugene gnawed on the face of Ronald Poppo.
For George, a historian for the HistoryMiami museum and a Miami-Dade College professor, the roughly 60 events that fill the three-hour tour are an important, if unattractive, part of the city’s history. From the murder of Gianni Versace to the attempted assassination of Franklin Roosevelt, the picture isn’t pretty, but someone’s still got to tell the story.
“Dark tourism” has long been a part of American tourism culture, from concentration camps to a walking tour of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s former haunts. Researchers speculate people flock to these sites for contemplation, reflection and, in the case of Miami’s crime-based tour, excitement.
The site of the horrific causeway attack on Memorial Day weekend is quickly becoming one of those macabre landmarks as people stop to take photos at the stark site in the shadows of the downtown skyline.
“It’s history, and it’s not even just sensationalizing something,” George said. “It’s ugly, but it’s something that’s happened.”
©2012 The Miami Herald