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Meet the local exploring Miami's myths and folklore

The New Tropic

By By Grace DeWitt

This article originally appeared in the New Tropic.

A headshot of Jason Katz. He is slightly smiling and wearing a floral button up.
The Instagram account for his Islandia Journal is so often cited by other Locals to Know as their favorite follow on social media that it felt only right to turn the spotlight to the publisher of the "(sub)tropical periodical" himself!

Take it away, Jason.

Locals to know: Meet Islandia Journal's Jason Katz

Hi, Jason! Tell our readers a little about what keeps you busy.

Born and raised in Miami, I'm a writer, editor, and publisher. I founded Islandia Journal in 2021 and work as a contributing editor to Burnaway Magazine, writing and editing about contemporary art in South Florida. I contributed two chapters to Florida!, a guidebook published by A24 Films.

What neighborhood(s) are you reppin'?

All of the Miami Metro, but I was raised in the Gables.

What brings you most alive about the 305?

The love/hate relationship we all have with it.

On the right day, a good road rage encounter can be invigorating — both parties pulling away laughing and shouting. On the wrong day, it can be debilitating, even dangerous.

What's your favorite Miami memory?

The Marlins' World Series wins.

I was there in 1997 when Edgar Renteria hit the walk-off to win it and will never forget driving around after the 2003 win against the Yankees. People were hanging out of their cars with champagne and cigars. It was the first time I ever saw the pots and pans come out. My car horn was never the same after that night.

If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It's not quite a meal, but instead a box of croquetas from Islas Canarias.

I buy anywhere from 9 to 37 (traditional increments do not belong in this space) and eat 'em on the hood of my car with a cortadito and ice water in a paper cup from the yellow Igloo on the counter. The ones I don't eat come with me and live in the freezer as emergency croqueta stores.

Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Miami day.

On a nice day, South Beach is one of the best in the world.

I'm bringing pastries and cold drinks there, stopping at A.C.'s Icees on the way back south, and hopping into any available swimming pool. That is my perfect Miami day: Beach ➡️ Icees ➡️ Pool.

What’s your favorite local social media account and why?

Besides Islandia Journal?? @Love_The_Everglades is so good at posting and re-posting events, resources, and commentary specifically for those of us with an ecological consciousness. If you care about the health of Miami's environment and also want to learn more about Miami's indigenous communities and histories, follow them, attend one of their activations, and donate.

If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?

When driving, the best defense is a good offense.

One more closely held driving tactic: it's called the FLAP (Few Lights as Possible) and SLAP (Stop Little as Possible) method of driving. By reading this, you release me from any liability.

How does Miami help you do what you do or influence your work?

Miami is like a brand burned into everything I create. I see big blue and gold macaws flying overhead while I walk near the Coral Gables Fire Station and immediately dive down a rabbit hole of research into South Florida parrot populations pre- and post-Hurricane Andrew or pre- and post- Parrot Jungle, and then the different poetic ways to consider parrots, roadside attractions, etc.

Though I'm mostly desk-bound, I create errands so that I can get on the road and derive inspiration from the natural and built worlds of South Florida.

If there was one thing you could change, address, etc. about Miami, what would it be?

In another life, I might have entered politics and tried to solve the big Miami issues — transit, housing affordability, etc. — which would improve the quality of life here for those who need it most.

Miami is propped up entirely by those in construction, hospitality, elder care, and child care services (to name a few), yet our municipalities seem to care more about posturing in committee meetings, infighting, and corruption rather than action.

We have an issue with vanity here. This isn't a #BecauseMiami moment for me, by the way. I believe there are plenty of folks in positions of power who are doing good, it's just an uphill battle. I'm a member of the board of directors at Catalyst Miami and hope I can impact policy and incite change in that capacity. Right now, I'm excited by a program at Catalyst called the Community Investment Cooperative. The idea is to bring commercial property ownership back to the citizens of North Miami instead of in the hands of speculators.

What are you looking forward to in 2023?

Besides all four issues of Islandia Journal, I'm looking forward to an exhibit at HistoryMiami this summer called Mythical Creatures. It's a traveling exhibit from the American Museum of Natural History, but there's also going to be a really cool regional room. They brought me on as a guest curator of folklore and art related to all things chupacabra, skunk ape, and beyond!


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