Best of Miami®

Best Of 2004

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Personal Best

A founding member of Miami pop music's adventuresome quartet The Avenging Lawnmowers of Justice (www.avenginglawnmowersofjustice.com), singer and bass player Chris DeAngelis takes a fun stand against product rock with songs such as "Female Telly Savalas" and "(In Hell With a) Cell Phone." This band is so great that its in-studio performance on the WLRN-FM (91.3) program Topical Currents once elicited a torrent of angry letters and phone calls from people demanding to know if "some crazy kids" had taken over the station.

It is, however, as an always genteel and exceedingly competent sound guy that DeAngelis melds technology with altruism. A cohort of other local luminaries, including DJ Le Spam of the Spam Allstars, trusts and reveres DeAngelis's way with knob-twiddling and crowd-gauging.

DeAngelis is also a very funny fellow and the driver of a "soccer-mom-style urban assault vehicle."

Best Local Landmark
The Miami Circle

Sure, I know it's not in the news much anymore, but the Miami Circle has been a local landmark for almost two thousand years. It's only been forgotten for the past couple centuries.

Best Month
August

I actually like August, because no one is left in town but the locals.

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill
A Night On South Beach

A Tourist's Perspective:
1. Go to a trendy restaurant -- have your car valet parked. 2. You are attended to by an imperious homosexual Italian waiter who mocks your menu selection.
3. Your food arrives; it appears to be Fancy Feast Cat Food artfully arranged on a leaf of lettuce.
4. Pay the bill (fifteen percent gratuity automatically included in spite of the poor service).
5. Get your car back from the valet -- tip him out.
6. The public garage is full, so you take your chances parking in the "residential permit only" back streets six blocks from Washington Avenue.
7. Stand in line in front of a dance club until the big shave-headed guy in the black T-shirt lets you in when you slip him a twenty.
8. Max out your credit card on drinks and dance the night away with a statuesque blond woman until you determine that she's a drag queen.
9. Psychologically shaken, you return to where you parked the car -- it's been towed.
10. You can't get your car out of the tow yard because you spent your last bit of cash on the bag of bogus coke you bought from the drag queen at the dance club.
11. Catch the sunrise while walking across the Rickenbacker Causeway back to your hotel.
COST -- When you tell your friends back in Bean Blossom, Indiana, that you spent last night partying on South Beach: PRICELESS.

Best Reason to Live in Miami
Bragging rights

We’re number one! The blatant corruption of elected officials (and the election process in general), the sexy Latinas, the overblown reputation the city has for crime (which isn’t so bad unless you compare it to a place like, say, Peoria), the availability of a good cup of Cuban coffee or a good plate of Haitian lambi, the “it’s okay to take a left on a red light” traffic rule which only exists here, the famous folks who move here when their careers have gone in the Dumpster. All this has cemented our reputation to the rest of the nation as a place where no one wants to be, but everyone secretly wants to go.

BEST NEW CULTURAL TREND

When the night ends, it doesn't matter if the artwork altered anyone's perception because, as they say, it was all good. Rocket Projects, at 3440 N. Miami Ave., was at the vanguard of this lowbrow cultural movement, always providing complimentary booze, DJ sounds, and even, on one chilly night, free barbecued chicken out back. OBJEX artspace's soirees tended to be a higher form of lowbrow, but with new digs at 203 NW 36th St., this gallery gets credit for taking the art party movement into ever deeper depths of Wynwood. Lawrence Gartel went even higher (i.e., lower) for an exhibition curated in conjunction with David Lombardi's Roving Fridays. This show, Cyberotica, featured digital art inside the warehouse and painted ladies (literally) who were shaking what they had on a rickety little runway out back. Free vodka drinks, natch. There were many other shining examples of this exciting new trend, but we don't remember them.

BEST NEW MUSIC TREND

Years ago it seemed every kid wanted a guitar. Then all those kids began to trade their guitars in for two turntables, speakers, and a mixer. Some New Jacks even skipped the actual mechanisms, opting for computer programs like ReBirth or Fruity Loops. During the late Nineties, only real-deal rockers dared to take actual guitars and drums onto the stage or into the studio. It was the cut-and-paste, Pro Tools antics of DJs and the 808 drum machine/synthesizer that governed youth-oriented music. These days the role of knobs and computer keyboards in music production are increasingly minimized by objects that were considered rather archaic: guitars, horns, and actual drums (not drum machines). Led by groups such as the Spam Allstars, the modern elements (DJ, rapper, electronic gadgetry) are largely backed by traditional, organic instruments. Local hip-hop groups such as Buddha Gonzalez and the Headless Chihuahuas, Brimstone 127, and Council of the Sun have all put the prerecorded sample on the back burner in favor of the warmer, more dynamic sounds of live instrumental performances. It could be a cue for the comeback of other logical elements of music makers ... like talent.

BEST NEW MUSIC TREND

Years ago it seemed every kid wanted a guitar. Then all those kids began to trade their guitars in for two turntables, speakers, and a mixer. Some New Jacks even skipped the actual mechanisms, opting for computer programs like ReBirth or Fruity Loops. During the late Nineties, only real-deal rockers dared to take actual guitars and drums onto the stage or into the studio. It was the cut-and-paste, Pro Tools antics of DJs and the 808 drum machine/synthesizer that governed youth-oriented music. These days the role of knobs and computer keyboards in music production are increasingly minimized by objects that were considered rather archaic: guitars, horns, and actual drums (not drum machines). Led by groups such as the Spam Allstars, the modern elements (DJ, rapper, electronic gadgetry) are largely backed by traditional, organic instruments. Local hip-hop groups such as Buddha Gonzalez and the Headless Chihuahuas, Brimstone 127, and Council of the Sun have all put the prerecorded sample on the back burner in favor of the warmer, more dynamic sounds of live instrumental performances. It could be a cue for the comeback of other logical elements of music makers ... like talent.

BEST LOCAL JAZZ ARTIST

Okay, so it's not like he plays upstairs at the Van Dyke every other weekend. But when you have a jazz deity living in your back yard, you gotta pay props and do what you can to coax the cool cat out of the bag. Or in this case, out of his Aventura condo and onto a bandstand near you. Jazz fans want him to play as often as possible -- eight nights per week would do. Sparked by a rare planetary alignment or some such harmonically auspicious convergence, the fiery grace of Wayne was upon us for the recent JVC Jazz Festival on Miami Beach, but his live concerts are as rare as Florida panthers. In case you didn't know, Mr. Shorter is a sax player and composer of the highest order, a former member of the Jazz Messengers -- the best Miles Davis band ever -- and Weather Report, and, in general, a living legend. Let us give thanks, for he is among us.

BEST LOCAL JAZZ ARTIST

Okay, so it's not like he plays upstairs at the Van Dyke every other weekend. But when you have a jazz deity living in your back yard, you gotta pay props and do what you can to coax the cool cat out of the bag. Or in this case, out of his Aventura condo and onto a bandstand near you. Jazz fans want him to play as often as possible -- eight nights per week would do. Sparked by a rare planetary alignment or some such harmonically auspicious convergence, the fiery grace of Wayne was upon us for the recent JVC Jazz Festival on Miami Beach, but his live concerts are as rare as Florida panthers. In case you didn't know, Mr. Shorter is a sax player and composer of the highest order, a former member of the Jazz Messengers -- the best Miles Davis band ever -- and Weather Report, and, in general, a living legend. Let us give thanks, for he is among us.

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Personal Best: Chris DeAngelis

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