Best Of :: People & Places
Planning the perfect party takes a little bit of practical chemistry: Bring together a mix of people from enough different social subsets to make for interesting, convivial conversation. But make sure they are not from worlds so alien that guests have nothing at all to say. Serve enough food to sate the starving without stultifying the gluttonous. Lubricate with enough alcohol to loosen inhibitions without encouraging regrettable hookups or, worse, drunken brawls. Find a sponsor generous enough to underwrite the festivities who doesn't subsequently become a demanding boor. And then there's the intangible type of chemistry that just clicks into place, turning an enjoyable but predictable shindig (something that happens almost every night of the year in Miami Beach) into one for the record books. Such an alignment of the stars occurred November 15, 2005, when the celebrity publicists (and publicists to celebrities) of TARA, Ink gave a coming-out party for Douglas Rodriguez's new incarnation of famed Caribbean fusion restaurant OLA at the Savoy on Ocean Drive -- it is located, by the way, in the former home of Rolling Stone Ron Wood's nightclub. The event was on the tab of cell phone and Sidekick service providers T-Mobile, which was simultaneously launching new incarnations of the personal communication devices. It turned out the electronics moguls were the consummate sponsors, rocking the party with witty chat and mingling easily. "I love Miami Beach," commented T-Mobile executive Mark Stockdale. "It's different -- way different than Seattle, where I'm from, but that's the idea." OLA was populated that evening not only by tech-talkin' geeks but also by local scenesters on their best behavior: Kimona, the National Hotel's iconic lounge singer; designer Esteban Cortazar; club owner Nicola Siervo; and Tara Solomon herself, possibly the most gracious hostess ever to simultaneously take a phone call, balance a martini, and personally escort a guest to the restroom in four-inch heels. Yet there were enough civilians -- starving artists and writers, people's parents and grandparents, and even a few children -- to make milling mandatory and introductions painless. The drinks were paired with Rodriguez's magnificent ceviche snacks, crab puffs, spring rolls, and lobster tarts, which led to a full-fledged four-course meal. Guests left full, happy, and madly craving a Hello Kitty-theme Sidekick of their very own. That's the key to party perfection: Satisfy every desire, yet make guests want more. Definitely one for the record books.
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.
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 dont do triumph. Ive never had one. I cant tell you how it feels to triumph, or what it looks, tastes or smells like. I wouldnt know triumph if some guy ran over me with a TR4.
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.
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.
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!