Best of Miami®

Best Of 2006

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Best Of :: People & Places

Best Bowling Alley (Closed)

Let us now have a moment of silence for Don Carter's, the little bowling alley that could, and did, for 30 years. The Kendall branch opened in 1976, when most of the overcrowded suburb was but a gleam in an ambitious developer's eye, and it sadly has gone the way of most Miami businesses that possess any glimmer of authentic retro chic. Shuttered. Kaput. Finis. If you're the kind of "athlete" who owns your own bowling ball and shoes, you'll have to head out to the annoying brightness of Bird Bowl (9275 SW 40 St., Miami; 305-221-1221, www.birdbowl.com) or even farther to the Homestead Bowling Center (111 S. Homestead Blvd., Homestead; 305-246-1333). Hipsters can enjoy Lucky Strike Lanes (1691 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach; 305-532-0307, www.bowlluckystrike.com). Just know that no self-respecting bowling alley serves coconut shrimp and hummus, dudes. Progress has marched on, but the memories remain. Don Carter's felt like the real deal -- musty, dark, and funky. The ambiance could be described as inadvertent kitsch (and isn't that really the best kind?), with cheesy track lighting, garish patterns in the carpet, and a distinct lack of contemporary chic flourishes. And the deals couldn't be beat. On Monday nights, visitors were able to pay $10 for the Bowl Your Brains Out deal: all-you-could-roll plus music, raffles, and Lightning Strikes, a stonerific explosion of special effects, lights, lasers, and fog. Ah, the good old days. Rumors of the location's imminent closing swirled for months. This past October, the following statement was posted on the company's Website: "While we are saddened to see this great establishment close, we will be open through October 2005." The date came and went, and the year came to a close. Two other dates were publicized as being the last call, but Don Carter representatives finally confirmed the tragic truth. The Kendall area landmark went out with a whimper, not with the promised celebration and hubbub. Sorry, boys, no more balls will roll down those familiar wooden lanes. Eventually the familiar gray building will be razed and maybe rebuilt into some bullshit chain store. Sentimental fans will lament, zip up their bowling bags, and then make the trek up to the remaining Don Carter locations in Tamarac and Davie.

Personal Best

James "Jimbo" Luznar opened his joint on Virginia Key, Jimbo's, a half-century ago. And there's no better place on the water to take a toot.

What is your greatest triumph?

We used to be where the Herald building is, but then they said our boats would have to go. So we looked at Snapper Creek, Mart’ Park, then we ended up on Virginia Key. It stunk sometimes, and there were mosquitoes, snakes, coons, opossums, and iguanas. It cost us a lot of money to be there, but we stayed. They've been trying to get me out of there for a long time, but now everyone all over the world knows Jimbo.

Personal Best

Born in Homestead, Kevin Wynn is the producer and cohost of Downtown Dade, a TV talk show that covers the arts and culture and airs on the county's government access channel. He is also the coprogrammer, with Barron Sherer, of Cinema Vortex, a nonprofit organization devoted to screening unusual, significant, and neglected film and video works. And he's the creator of Public Domain Playhouse, a continuing series of screenings he curates with Sherer.

What is your greatest triumph?

My greatest triumph? I don’t do “triumph.” I’ve never had one. I can’t tell you how it feels to triumph, or what it looks, tastes or smells like. I wouldn’t know “triumph” if some guy ran over me with a TR4.

Best Dog Park

There are several safe, clean places where we can let Fido run off-leash in Miami-Dade. Coconut Grove has several dog-friendly parks; the Beach has some nice locations; there's a spot on Virginia Key where dogs can swim and sunbathe; but of all the canine treats in my Miami, the mac daddy of all dog parks is in Aventura. Two years ago the city, which is burgeoning with young dog-owning families, built the expansive new Veterans Park. The $600,000 two-acre expanse has a wonderful, well-kept, welcoming space. There are pooper-scooper dispensers throughout the space. There are doggy water fountains and doggy showers. And the most endearing detail: red fire hydrants. All of this greatness, of course, comes at a price: You have to live in Aventura, and show proof of residence, to gain access. It's almost reason enough to move there.

Best Local Politician

It is a dark time for Miami-Dade County's executive mayor. The evil lords on the county commission annihilated Carlos Alvarez's bold offensive to strip them of some bribe-making abilities. Then the Galactic Empire displayed the true power of the Dark Side when it crushed Alvarez in the Boundary Wars. Beaten but resolute, the good mayor fled to the outer rim of the county's suburban wasteland to regroup and complete his training. Upon his return, Alvarez successfully destroyed the Imperials' diabolical device: The Public Silencer. In time, this Obi-wan of the Swamp may finally bring balance to the county.

Best Listener

Come one, come all, to the "Read to Farley" sessions at the children's section of the North Miami Beach Library, the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 4:00 p.m. This is no ordinary dog. This shaggy mop o' unconditional love once suffered from crippling agoraphobia, owing to early abuse. But his patient handler, Margo Berman, a professor at Florida International University, worked tirelessly, training him to overcome his fears and earn his Therapy Dog badge. Now Farley helps shy children who have trouble reading aloud. Once the youngsters sit down with Farley on the colorful rugs, they don't want to stop reading him stories because he is a great listener, mispronunciations be damned!

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Best Bowling Alley (Closed): Don Carter Kendall Lanes

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