Best Of :: People & Places
In our fantasy, the best place for a first date would be an exotic faraway locale like Casablanca or Spain's Costa del Sol. We'd meet in secret under the stars, perhaps pursued by nefarious forces, in the ruin of an old Moorish castle by the sea. You would look stunning in the half-light, gingerly stepping around a peacock as you approach through the rubble. We would kiss furtively, then part, fearing for our safety yet certain to meet again. In the meantime, let's meet at the restored Olympia Theater at the Gusman in downtown Miami. The faux Moorish architecture and simulated night sky will do for a setting. A peacock stares out from a box beside the stage. You will look stunning as you step gingerly up the steep balcony stairs, perhaps pursued by an usher, your hands filled with popcorn. If we pick the right night, Casablanca may be on the screen. We can kiss furtively when the lights dim. Whatever happens next, we'll always have the Gusman.
Canker creeps, Wagner Creek reeks, traffic snarls, rain storms arrive, Latin Grammys arrive, rapists prowl, kids take bullets, DCF kills, Omar Paisley dies, John Brennan dies, Leonard Pancoast dies, MIA rabbits get to live, Crandon Park cabanas live again, Augustín Roman steps down, David Leahy steps down, Constance Kaplan steps up, real estate goes up, cafeterías get busted, pot growers get busted, Miami Seaquarium gets busted, smokers get the boot, Chuck Lanza gets the boot, Mandela gets an apology, more rapists prowl, tolls rise, gas prices rise, Nikki Beach fades, cruise ships kill, drag races kill, Robert Curbelo, Jr., gets busted, Ric Sisser gets busted, Performing Arts Center busts budgets, MIA travelers are frisked, priests are accused, cops are convicted, Doral is born, Celia Cruz dies, Wilkie Ferguson dies, Chesterfield Smith dies, Rene Touzet dies, Florida Philharmonic dies, Cuban hijackers go to jail, José Canseco goes to jail, Miami Gardens goes broke, Miami Herald goes dumb and dumber, NAACP arrives, Marvin O'Quinn arrives, terror-alert orange arrives, FTAA arrives, cops swarm, protesters are arrested and sprayed and shot and beaten, and more traffic, more rain, more bullets, Carlos Manuel defects, Bob Graham stumbles, MIA workers smuggle, smuggled Cubans land on South Beach, old Beach buildings go down, Bliss House goes down, downtown booms, Lighthouse Café burns down, Miami bond ratings go up, Sunny Isles goes up, up, up, Ira Clark gets the boot, Steve Shiver gets the boot, George Burgess gets appointed, MIA rabbits take bullets, José Calvo takes a bullet, manatees die, Millie the orangutan dies, Clyde Killens dies, turnpike kills, canals kill, rip currents kill, DCF kills again, Judge William Hoeveler gets the boot, UM's North-South Center gets the boot, North Bay Village politicians are busted, Fernandez Rundle boys are busted (again), Mercedes Masvidal is busted (again), Miami Circle is buried (again), more traffic snarls, more rain falls, crops get swamped, Joe Carollo goes bankrupt, Sal Magluta goes to prison, Willie Falcon goes to prison, Fabio Ochoa goes to prison, Manuel Noriega stays in prison, David Paul gets out of prison, Miami's film festival sees new life, S&S Diner lives on, Miracle Mile Cafeteria dies, Piccadilly dies, Marlins take it all, Denise Calvo takes the Fifth, public schools take a hit, Kelly Cobiella hit with DUI, Bill Kamal hit with DUI, Romero Britto hit with DUI, Norman Van Aken hit with DUI, Frank Cobo cops a plea, Pat Tornillo cops a sweet plea, David Samson dies, Raul Ernesto Valdes-Fauli dies, Space 34 dies (temporarily), serial rapist Reynaldo Elias Rapalo gets caught (finally), and at last some good news (happily): Ron O'Daniels strums guitar, violates Miami Beach law banning street performers, gets arrested, refuses guilty plea, sits three weeks in jail. Then the extremely wise Judge Mary Jo Francis steps in and declares the law unconstitutional. Miami Beach buskers are free at last!
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.
Step into the Raleigh and instantly you're transported to another time -- 1940 to be exact, the year prolific architect L. Murray Dixon's monument to Streamline Moderne design threw open its dazzling doors. Slink through the sophisticated lobby like the movie star you are. Slip into the cozy bar, boasting martini glasses festively illustrated in the terrazzo floor, for a cocktail. Head outdoors and take a dip in the spectacular scalloped swimming pool surrounded by towering palm trees. Check into one of the 104 rooms and suites decorated in Art Deco-period style and your pleasant journey to the past might convince you it's futile to return to the present. The Raleigh's name was meant to pay tribute to Sir Walter Raleigh, intrepid British explorer, notable poet, and charming courtier to Queen Elizabeth I -- a true Renaissance man. Who better than an urbane figure like renowned hotel honcho André Balazs -- behind the swanky empire that includes Los Angeles's Chateau Marmont and New York's Mercer -- to assume ownership of the Raleigh? He did so recently, assuring continued excellence.
BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE: Olympia Theater
Gusman Center for the Performing Arts