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This ballyard on the campus of the University of Miami is everything good about going to a baseball game, you think as you lean forward on your concrete bench along the first-base side of home. Especially on a late winter day like today, with enough clouds to offer shade yet not threaten rain, and the wind blowing briskly out to left. The visiting pitcher misses with a 1-0 breaking ball. "Baaaallll two!" the hard-core 'Canes fans hoot directly behind home plate. Yes, sir, you think. Despite the clink of aluminum bats, the brand of baseball played here, and the cozy, welcoming atmosphere of the 4500-seat stadium, can easily transport you back to a simpler era in the history of the Great American Pastime. The snack vendor begins his circuit, barking out his wares at a volume more appropriate to Pro Player Stadium. "Peanuts, popcorn, soda, Gatorade ..." A pause for dramatic effect, then: "SUURRRGE!" Some smiling 'Canesters know the routine and join the vendor in his call. A hard drive to right scores a run for the home team, and sets the fans to hollering. You can hear every one of them individually. The slap of high-fives at the plate is palpable. The sun starts angling down in the late innings. The bullpens are working. Maybe you'll have some peanuts.

The Times news broadcast has emerged as the most promising show on WAMI, Barry Diller's year-old effort to create the most glamorous UHF station in the world. Mankiewicz, host of the 10:00 p.m. Times, is already the sharpest anchor on the local airwaves. Admittedly it's a matter of style. Mankiewicz appeals to viewers who don't want their news anchors to be benevolent parents. He never invites his audience to join the WAMI family, for instance. Nor does he spout the banal chitchat that emanates from most anchor chairs. His delivery is self-deprecating. It's also professional and engaging. Serious tinkering is still needed before the The Times becomes the essential viewing it has the potential to be. Until it reaches that goal, Mankiewicz makes the show more than bearable.
Cruiserweight Daniels, a graduate of Jackson High, is the only Miami-born fighter to hold a major world title, the World Boxing Association championship from 1989 to 1991. He has been either a contender or a world champ almost all his professional career, which by now spans nearly fifteen years. Yet Daniels has never attracted the recognition his boxing skills merit, and at age 30 he's not likely to become a household name tomorrow. But he's still a threat in the ring. Just last May the scowling power-puncher scored a major upset by knocking out Don Diego Poeder in ten rounds in Biloxi, Mississippi, to win the International Boxing Organization title. The IBO may be worthless, but that underdog victory upped Daniels's record to 38-3-1, with 30 knockouts. Now he has trouble getting fights. He may be past his prime, but he's good enough to scare off anyone with something to lose.

To watch a lot of local television news is to appreciate just how good a reporter is Mark Londner. Viewed side-by-side against his competition, the Channel 7 senior correspondent's story is likely to be the most thorough and the most balanced. Londner simply digs deeper to add the context that television news stories so often lack. Also excelling, in different ways, are WPLG-TV (Channel 10) political dean Michael Putney and WAMI-TV (Channel 69) upstart John Mattes, who displays welcome investigative acumen.
The summer is long in South Florida, but at this series produced by the City Theatre group, the plays are shorts. Summer Shorts, that is. The nearly four-year-old festival that celebrates five-minute dramas may indeed present several dozen Florida and world premieres of tiny works, but the producers don't skimp on quality. Each playwright (last year there were more than 500 submissions from around the nation) gets a fully staged production, featuring Equity actors and directors. And each actor gets an original comedy or drama in which to perform. Audience members, however, reap the greatest dividends. Summer Shorts' programs of micro-minute plays, normally opening early in June, and accompanied by a picnic dinner to which you may wear, well, shorts, are a tradition that keeps us going through the summer, and anticipating the riches of the summers to come.

He may not have presented the most provocative play or even the strongest season this past year, but New Theatre's artistic director Rafael de Acha made his mark on the South Florida theater scene by continuing to invest his productions with a personal vision. In the past year he presented eight new plays and one stunningly original double bill of familiar works: Don Juan in Hell and A Christmas Carol. He assembled numerous combinations of actors in crackerjack casts. He spearheaded an ongoing campaign to expand the theater beyond its tiny 78-seat black box. But most impressive of all, de Acha (who designs and directs many New Theatre shows) brings such intricate care and subtle intelligence to the details of design and staging that a signature de Acha production, recognizable anywhere, has come to be one of the high points on the South Florida cultural landscape.
"Acting isn't nice," says theater innovator Anna Deveare Smith, acknowledging the naked edges that cut to the heart when a performance uncovers complex truths. Okay, it's not nice. But sometimes it's quite palatable nonetheless. Especially when those doing it are as talented and cohesive as the troupers comprising the New Theatre's double bill Don Juan in Hell and A Christmas Carol. Under the direction of Rafael de Acha, this foursome (Bill Yule, Bill Hindman, David Alt, and Lisa Morgan) turned themselves into the Devil, Scrooge, Don Juan, and a number of supporting characters, including a panting dog and a bevy of thieves. In these two script-in-hand productions, props, costumes, and scenery hardly existed. They weren't missed. The magnificent quartet demonstrated the power that the actor alone exerts on our imagination. Then multiplied that by a power of four.
Every theater is saddled with the same basic challenge: figuring out what audiences want. At Florida Stage founder and producing director Louis Tyrrell isn't looking over his shoulder to see what others are doing. Nor is he serving up crowd pleasers just to sell tickets. Instead he's leading the way with challenging programming you can't see anywhere else. In the past year Florida Stage presented effervescent productions of three Florida premieres (with one more on the way this spring). This past summer the theater produced Michael McKeever's provocative new play The Garden of Hannah List, as well as a Cole Porter revue that really was tops. Not everything the theater presents is an unqualified success, but its willingness to take chances is.
Take one Victorian homosexual on trial, add a twentieth-century talk show host, a courtroom full of lawyers, some Aubrey Beardsley drawings, and lots of cute boys in their underwear, and you'll have Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. The show, an Outer Critics Circle Award-winner in New York, received a superior Florida production thanks to Caldwell Theatre Company's artistic director Michael Hall, who also directed the show with understated elegance and savvy. Designed by Tim Bennett and Thomas Salzman, who outfitted actors and abstract scenery alike in a black-to-shades-of-gray color scheme, and driven by Hall's razor-sharp pacing, Gross Indecency exulted in its own artistic firmament. We think Oscar Wilde would have approved.

With so many tattoo parlors around Miami (especially in South Beach, where there's one for every pizza joint), choosing someone to ink you is more challenging than ever. Just about every shop has an acclaimed artist, but Troy Lane stands out in a field of master craftsmen. Lane, who has received accolades from many tattoo publications, is a thirteen-year veteran (the last three were spent working out of his own shop). Before that he was with Tattoos by Lou. Among his design influences: Japanese body artists.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®