Last year's hurricane season was devastating. Of course, no major storm even threatened our little metropolis, and nary a gale sent worry-warts scampering for bottled water. The only dangerous weather was the hot air blown by City of Miami Police Chief John Timoney and Mayor Manny(!) talking up the Miami Model of policing at the FTAA conference. My dilemma was more of a personal, ego-driven disaster that had nothing to do with insurance policies, yachts landing in my front yard, or other people's children or pets flying through my windows. Growing up in Miami, I was overwhelmed by a deep-seated longing at the start of every season to rubberneck a storm. I wanted to know what 180 mph winds felt like. I wanted to see emergency action take place. I longed in a sick fashion to see my older brother's closet full of designer clothes flooded with storm sludge.
The closest I came to fulfilling my fantasy was Hurricane David in 1979, which barely nicked us. Still it was a thrill to feel the gales. As chance would have it, I was living in California when Andrew hit in 1992. So imagine my elation when I saw the roster of storms for Hurricane Season 2003. Smack in the middle of the named storms was my name -- Juan. Finally, a storm could have my name on it. Unfortunately Juan the storm fell apart after thrashing around in a confused frenzy somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. To my disappointment, Juan never even threatened the Bahamas.
Looking forward to the 2004 hurricane season (which officially kicked off June 1), my heart races at the news of a "50 percent probability of an above-normal" season and a 10 percent chance that a "below-normal" season will happen, according to the National Hurricane Center. With that said, these are the named storms, just in case you need to plan a party: Alex, Bonnie, Charley, Danielle, Earl, Frances, Gaston, Hermine, Ivan, Jeanne, Karl, Lisa, Matthew, followed by sexy Nicole, Otto, Paula, Richard, Shary, Tomas, Virginie, and finally, Walter. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Erotic pleasures at trade show
Sometimes your nipples need a good electrical zapping, right? Trouble is there's a dearth in Miami of specialty shops where you can get the help you need. Enter Achella Inc., one of the largest distributors of adult bondage and S&M stores in the region. The friendly pain masters, exhibiting at this weekend's Gay Erotic Expo, would be only too happy to charge you up and throw in a lesson or two in flogging techniques. The adults-only trade show will feature adult-production companies, porn stars, and local hotties writhing in boots and thongs. Check out umpteen varieties of lube, a wealth of electronic gizmos, and all kinds of supplies to keep your member strapping. Among the stars are adult-video mogul Michel Lucas and hottie Matthew Rush. The expo starts at 1:00 p.m. today and runs through tomorrow at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr. Admission is $20. Call 305-534-3336. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
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Experience those happier days
As high gas prices, a seemingly endless war, and a president who can't string three words together show us, life in the 2000s isn't exactly a picnic. As time marches on, isn't the world supposed to become a better place? Ha! Put us in the time machine and send us back to the 1950s, please. Sure, people were plenty repressed back then, but times had to be better. The country had just won a world war, many ordinary people could afford to buy things like houses and cars, and the president, a former general in the U.S. military, commanded some respect. Try to re-create those days of sunny optimism from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at North Beach's Ocean Terrace Bandshell (73rd Street and Collins Avenue). A '50s-style beach party, the finale of the MiMo in May Series, will feature a classic car show, hula hoop and dance contests, food, music, and more. Admission is free. Call 305-865-4147. -- By Nina Korman
Home Grown Taste
The Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Society of the Redland and the South Bay Garden Club are real do-it-yourself aficionados. Nothing gives them more pleasure than enjoying the fruits of their labor. At the Redland Farm and Garden Show, club members will show off treats made with produce they've grown at Fruit and Spice Park (24801 SW 187th Ave., Homestead). Try black sapota ice cream, made with what is called "chocolate pudding fruit." Contrast that with a cone of canistel, a squashlike fruit known as egg fruit, that originates in Southeast Asia. Of course the exotic treats are balanced out with homemade renderings of passion fruit freezes and batidos de mamey. Once loaded with the sugary frosty stuff, get a look at exhibits of antique and tricked-out tractors. As housing developments and strip malls continue to sprout in South Miami-Dade, getting a genuine taste of the past is increasingly difficult. The fair opens at 10:00 a.m. and runs through tomorrow. Admission is $5. Call 305-247-5727. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez