Best of Miami®

Best Of 2004

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Best Of :: People & Places

Personal Best

Mario Artecona makes an initial impression as the sort of unassuming nice guy who would stop during rush hour to help you change a flat; the type of fellow who would track you down to your house to return a lost wallet, a rememberer of first names and birthdays. But Artecona is also clearly sharp and articulate, so maybe it's not so surprising that this person so privately decent is also the perfect public citizen. Artecona, executive director of the Miami Business Forum, took it upon himself to found a political action committee to challenge the Miami-Dade County Commission's shell-game dominance over the area's biggest economic engine, the airport. Artecona wants a public referendum on the creation of an independent airport authority. As he has been successful thus far in both petitioning and inverting the political power pyramid, the referendum is likely to appear on November's ballot.

Best Local Landmark
DinnerKey

It got its name in the Thirties when people began bringing box dinners there to watch the seaplanes fly in and out. The current Miami City Commission building was the old Pan American seaplane terminal. It really helped Miami secure its place in aviation and as a gateway to the islands and South America.

Best Sanctuary From the Fast Track
Well, my track isn't really all that fast, but when I want to completely unplug, I head to Miami Beach. I've got beach in my blood. I really enjoy sitting on the sand, butchering Elvis Costello or They Might Be Giants songs on my acoustic. We tend to take the beach for granted here. Usually we park ourselves just north of the Eden Roc. We've tried the beaches down by South Beach, but I personally exceed the maximum body fat requirement necessary to go south of Fifth Street.

Best Month
August

Okay, this is the one where everyone will think I'm crazy, but I LOVE August. Everyone and their grandmother is out of town; the beaches, stores, and restaurants are hassle-free; golf courses are cheap; you can tell who the REAL Marlins fans are; and people are just too hot and tired to be rude.

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill
Quick seating at Joe's

I know, it's shallow and petty, but we're talking culinary institution here. I've been fostering a relationship with Dennis and Anthony for years. There is a guilty pleasure in walking past the mob scene and getting a table (don't hate the player, hate the game). Cliché or not, Joe's Stone Crab is one of the finest meals to be had in this town. I think one of the street tests of power in this town is how fast you can get a table at Joe's. I'm far from being one of those waltz-in guys, but each season gets better.

Best Cheap Thrill
Catching a set of the Spam Allstars around town is always fun. Free at Jazid on Wednesday nights, cheap at I/O on Thursdays. Another great cheap thrill is the Gulfstream Park concert series. For five bucks, you can catch the "They're still around?" band circuit. Very high camp factor.

Best Reason to Live in Miami
I think it has to be the pace of this place. Miami is a mile-a-minute living theater. Just when you think that things are settling down, something inevitably happens to push the limits. Whether it's Elian, a Haitian freighter, the Miami Circle, public corruption, a botched election, you name it, there is always something that makes us take a step back, but then usually leads to three steps forward.

BEST LOCAL PHANTASMAGORIA

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!

BEST LOCAL PHANTASMAGORIA

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!

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 HOTEL

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 HOTEL
The Raleigh

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.

1775 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 33139
MAP
305-534-6300
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Personal Best: Mario Artecona

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