Best of Miami®

Best Of 2002

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Best Of :: People & Places

BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWNERS

If they're visiting from out of town, there's a good chance they're not familiar with the word guajiro. In Cuba it's the name given to country folk, that island nation's noble peasants. Rancho Don Goyo, a rustic retreat in Miami's own countryside, keeps the guajiro spirit alive on Saturdays and Sundays, when Cuban immigrant Gregorio Arensibia, better known as Don Goyo, throws open the gates to his two-acre ranch and invites in the world. Bring your guests here and let them experience a peculiar and exotic aspect of Miami: This really is not the U.S.A. From noon until roughly 10:00 p.m. South Florida residents hailing from all over Latin America gather for food, drink, music, and dance in an atmosphere that feels a lot like home, whether that was Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, or Cuba. Rancho Don Goyo is marked by an unassuming sign on the north side of Okeechobee Road (U.S. 27) beyond the turnpike, after it opens up under a big sky and a landscape of broad fields. (If you reach the junction with Krome Avenue you've gone too far.) A dusty side road takes you to a makeshift parking lot, then on to the heart of the place -- a ramshackle general store and an immense open-air restaurant where patrons enjoy their beers along with a tempting variety of freshly grilled meats and tangy side dishes. When live bands aren't playing, the jukebox kicks in. Either way the dance floor will always be occupied. If possible try to be there on a Sunday afternoon when local enthusiasts of punto guajiro take to the stage. Punto guajiro is a Cuban musical invention of improvised lyrics set to the poetic decima, a traditional Spanish form favored by itinerant troubadours of yore. At Don Goyo's the tradition lives with an exuberance that requires no translation. Fun and games and barnyard animals for the kids. Ice-cold cervezas and back-slapping camaraderie for the adults. And a very special treat for your out-of-town guests.

BEST CIVIC DECEPTION

You have to hand it to the City of Miami. Faced with the daunting task of persuading voters to pass yet another bond issue to improve the same parks the city had failed to improve after two previous bond issues, commissioners were wringing their hands over this difficult sales job. Then terrorists felled the World Trade Center in New York. And then letters spiked with anthrax began circulating in the mail. And then city officials came up with a bright idea. The bond issue's name was changed to "The Homeland Security and Neighborhood Enhancement" bond. After earmarking a tiny portion of the $255 million to buy a few gas masks, commissioners got what they wanted. City voters approved the bond. Let the spending begin!

BEST CIVIC DECEPTION

You have to hand it to the City of Miami. Faced with the daunting task of persuading voters to pass yet another bond issue to improve the same parks the city had failed to improve after two previous bond issues, commissioners were wringing their hands over this difficult sales job. Then terrorists felled the World Trade Center in New York. And then letters spiked with anthrax began circulating in the mail. And then city officials came up with a bright idea. The bond issue's name was changed to "The Homeland Security and Neighborhood Enhancement" bond. After earmarking a tiny portion of the $255 million to buy a few gas masks, commissioners got what they wanted. City voters approved the bond. Let the spending begin!

BEST RADIO STATION

The pop-radio wars have just begun. Dance-only upstart WPYM-FM (93.1) calls out the big dogs at Power 96 to put up or shut up. Power takes the bait and responds decisively. Sure it plays more commercials, and it saturates us regularly with hip-hop we've heard before, but Power still spins the better dance music, particularly after hours, and it gets bonus points for effectively mixing two very distinct and progressive urban sounds. It doesn't hurt to have competitors dropping Power 96's name so ridiculously often. Latin grooves still reign in the Magic City, but like it or not hip-hop is now and dance is the future. Power has them both covered and plenty of advertisers to keep it in business.

BEST LOCAL PHANTASMAGORIA

Rain stops, drought threatens, Okeechobee drops, tolls rise, cops shoot, kids die, manatees die, Pan Courtelis dies, Shepard Broad dies, Elizabeth Virrick Park lives, Cubans get smuggled, John Boles gets fired, Tony Perez gets hired, Cuevas gets fired, Stierheim gets hired, the Beach goes hip-hop, Latin Grammys arrive, rain arrives, Latin Grammys split, Reno runs, AIDS infects, more cops shoot, more Cubans smuggled, Lenore Nesbitt dies, Howard Sharlin dies, Luis Sabines dies, Bryan O. Walsh dies, sex plane goes down, Bobby Maduro Stadium goes down, Sunny Isles motels go down, Miami cops throw down, Elian museum opens up, rain falls, thunderstorms roar, Chediak quits, Ninoska quits, Shalala takes charge, UM turns 75, Versailles turns 30, Norcross returns, Yahweh Ben Yahweh returns, Demetrio Perez busted, lawmen busted, civil servants busted, federal agents busted, Surana goes to jail, David Paul stays in jail, Cuban spies convicted, Reno faints, Castro faints, Judd quits, Cristina quits, Fraind quits, more rain falls, Okeechobee fills up, Lincoln Road fills up, tornadoes touch down, crime goes down, sharks bite, snakes bite, Hialeah Park folds, clinics fold, Dolphins fumble, Heat tumbles, Panthers dump Bure, Henry dumps Marlins, Loria arrives, Haitians detained, Miami cops indicted, smugglers indicted, Ramon Saul Sanchez indicted, Warshaw goes to jail, Humbertico stuck in jail, Noriega still in jail, terrorists strike, security tightens, tourists stay away, Art Basel stays away, layoffs arrive, Colombians arrive, Venezuelans arrive, Argentines arrive, Leonard Abess dies, Carlos Salman dies, Carlos D'Mant dies, anthrax strikes, recession strikes, budgets shrink, more layoffs, more AIDS, more cops indicted, still more rain, OB parade gets drenched, Bass Museum leaks, Sweetwater floods, West Nile virus arrives, Ricky Williams arrives, WTMI goes silent, Al Milian gets silenced, school board gets gouged, priests get exposed, Victor Posner dies, Rolando Barral dies, David Poland quits, DeFede quits, Reno stalls, Miami Circle stalls, Indian graves discovered, desecrated graves discovered, OJ gets searched, OB parade gets dumped, Carnival dumps, Miriam Alonso gets busted, Willie Logan gets off, Jennifer Rodriguez gets bronze, billboards take root, AIDS takes off, Tom Fiedler takes charge, Carollo is out, Diaz is in, Kasdin is out, Dermer is in, Pepper is out, Cobo is in, Marlins stadium is booed out, but Miami's animal lovers can cheer at last: After more than 30 years living in the same cramped Seaquarium tank, Lolita the hapless killer whale finally gets a new home.

BEST MOVIE THEATER

Being a cineaste in Miami means making your peace with malls. Over the past few years most choice indies and foreign flicks have landed at either the eighteen-screen South Beach Regal or one of the area's other multiplexes -- not our hit-and-miss art houses. So getting your celluloid fix has meant braving arena-size crowds and nightmarish parking. Fortunately the new Intracoastal Cinema has stepped into a comfortable middle ground, consistently earmarking several of its six screens for art fare. Even better, Mitchell and Nancy Dreier, the couple who own the Intracoastal (as well as five Broward theaters including the Gateway and the Sunrise), have moved past the usual Miramax suspects to spotlight such fare as the joyously whacked Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation, Charlotte Rampling's haunting comeback Under the Sand, and Mohsen Makhmalbaf's timely Kandahar. Plenty of free parking just steps from the front door, big screens, cushy seats, and (in stark contrast to most multiplexes) a relaxed air all combine to make moviegoing an experience instead of a trial.

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BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWNERS: Rancho Don Goyo

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