Tucked away inside the Marlin Hotel, Tom Lord-Algae is tweaking knobs at South Beach Studios for some of the biggest names in music. He put the leveling touches on CDs by the Rolling Stones (Bridges to Babylon and No Security); Marilyn Manson (Mechanical Animals); Hole (Celebrity Skin); as well as forthcoming releases from Live and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. His large workload keeps him busy while also providing South Florida with a steady stream of rock celebs. (Most of his client bands are at his side as he EQs their recordings.) Lord-Algae could do his thing virtually anywhere in the world, but he chooses South Beach, he says, because of the "fine artistic atmosphere."

The perennial winner of this category could easily have been eliminated from consideration this year if a major label had signed her to a deal and spread her fame beyond the boundaries of South Florida, as should have happened. Instead she iced the award by releasing in February another masterful CD of original rock, move. Like Mirror before it, the new disc showcases Ward's taffy vocals (they stretch but never break), evocative inflections, and razor-cut phrasings. Her latest effort was financed by yet another project, the highly collectible Bathroom Tape, recorded in an apartment studio in Plantation. These recordings stand with anything released nationally, but it's her live performances (with full band, solo, with guitarist Jack Shawde, or in the round) that keep bringing us back to worship at the Ward altar. As for the national stardom that has thus far eluded her, so what? Thanks to digital sound compression and the World Wide Web, people all over the globe can obtain Ward's work electronically, making major labels irrelevant and verging on obsolete. The reason no corporation has been tempted to exploit her sound might be this: It's too nicked and edgy and tough to meet pop standards, and too damn pretty for rock and roll.

Second Best Concert Of The Past Twelve Months

Lauryn Hill

On her debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, this Fugee diva-for-the-millennium was sultry without being crass, vulnerable without being weak, and, most of all, grounded and intelligent while still gazing skyward. In one knowing lyrical snap she looked around at her pop-music peers and sang, "C'mon, baby, light my fire/Everything you drop is so tired/Music is supposed to inspire/So how come we ain't getting no higher?" February's Bob Marley Festival in Bayfront Park may have billed Hill as merely a supporting act, but from her opening notes to the audience's ongoing and fervent squeals of "Lauryn!" there was no doubt who owned the night. Backed by a crisp horn section and a very live band, Hill proved she could take it to the stage, strutting and crooning her way through a thrilling set that nodded to the glory days of Motown and Seventies Philly soul, but was wholly of-the-moment. This was the Marley festival, so there was a smoky haze hanging over the park, but it was Hill who took everyone a little bit higher.
The goal: nothing less than the deconstruction and obliteration of rock and roll. The method: noise, a genre awash in dissonance and off-key chaos. Chief practitioners: nationally known local bands such as Harry Pussy and To Live and Shave in L.A. Results: nah. In fact the noise genre, which Miami nurtured and which seemed to be making an impact nationally, has been nearly silenced. In the case of the headache-inducing sound, it's a matter of first ones in, last ones out. Rat Bastard, a noise pioneer, and the Laundry Room Squelchers, an informal amalgam of musicians who typically work in other genres, continue to groan and drone every Thursday at Churchill's Hideaway. The disharmonic convergence is derived from traditional instruments, bizarre electronic gadgets, and just about anything else that might help create some of the most unusual sounds this side of a train wreck. When that brutal cacophony merges into a lucid melody, as can happen, it becomes a virtual squelchtopia for Rat's crew and the brave few who endure.
Lloyd's of London is famed for selling insurance to safeguard singers' voices. Miami's own DJ Craze may want to consider taking out a policy on his hands: Those ten fingers weave just as magical a spell as any set of vocal cords. Cutting and scratching his way through the world of experimental hip-hop, Craze has distinguished himself as one of the world's foremost turntablists, copping trophies and awestruck praise at virtually every competition he attends. Just as impressive as his live theatrics is Crazeë Musick, his debut album, which proves he can take a sprawling world of source elements and flip it into something different and totally his own.

Some know it's there, some hear about it through word of mouth, some are drawn by the sound of the drums and the heady scent of patchouli. For more than a year and a half, with every full moon, masses of people have gathered on the sand of Miami Beach at 22nd Street and Collins Avenue to celebrate the lunar month. Stumble by accident upon this rhythmically inclined horde of young hippies and you're bound to wonder if Phish is in town. Nope, it's just about 200 of Miami's own crunchy granola/henna tattoo/crystal friend set, kicking it new age: beating congas, Grateful Dead-dancing, and lighting incense in homage to the Earth Mother. "Organize" is probably the wrong word to use in conjunction with such a blissfully chaotic event, but Gaia Buhdai of the Synergy Yoga Center does try to keep the circle vibrant each month by making phone calls to some of the talented drummers she knows. "Some nights the drumming is great, some nights it's not that great," she allows. "But you look around and people are swimming, kids are playing, some are dancing in the circle, lovers are making out." A life-affirming, deliciously mellow affair. All hail the Mother Goddess!
For more than 2000 years Chinese health care practitioners have used a potent combination of herbs, needles, and nutrition to cure ailments ranging from acne to obesity. A pioneer in the field of Chinese medicine in the United States, Daniel Atchison-Nevel, a Miami Beach native, brought that knowledge home nearly twenty years ago, after a Gainesville acupuncturist cured his insomnia. As founder of the now-defunct South Florida Healing Arts Center and dean of the Community School of Traditional Chinese Healthcare, Nevel imported teachers from China and later taught hundreds of students the intricacies of Chinese medicine. Now with a booming private practice, he specializes in functional illnesses, which include digestive disorders, PMS, and depression. He also treats patients who want to quit smoking, lose weight, or alleviate chronic pain. Because the American Medical Association has sanctioned the use of acupuncture for some conditions, many insurance companies pick up the tab. Be warned, though: The waiting list for new patients is about two months long.
The great magic of the Everglades can be found in the subtleties of life there, though subtle is about the last word that comes to mind as you pull into Jon Weisberg's over-the-top roadside attraction. The anomaly is as it should be: We don't trap our tourists, boy, we trap gators. It is the illusion of an illusionary Florida. For eight years Weisberg and his staff have pulled off the improbable trick of creating a fake Everglades in the middle of the real Everglades. To differentiate Gator Park from the Tamiami Trail's lesser draws, its entranceway boasts a giant Coke can, atop which rests an airboat, atop which rest a stuffed bear, bird, and deer. Next to this improbable sculpture stand totem poles, a chickee, an American flag. Jutting from the thatched edifice is a big green wood gator head, so goofy-looking that real gators retreat into the swamp from embarrassment. A humanized, human-size gator (jeans, boots, dress shirt) sits in a rocking chair on the front porch, greeting tourists much as a live gator would: with a stony silent stare. Enough tables for a tribe are set up on the porch, the patio, and inside for dining on gator, frog legs, or venison (most meals cost less than ten bucks). The souvenir shop offers what you'd expect, but more of it: shirts and hats with gator logos, gator claws, jewelry (some of it Indian), books and postcards, ceramic gators, raccoon caps, Indian pottery, and other stuff, mostly employing the gator motif, including plastic, rubber, and puppet gator replicas. For a taste of the real Everglades, Gator Park provides five airboats piloted by guides ($12 for adults, $6.50 for kids) who will take you beyond the façade.
People either think this movie is brilliant or pathetic. Whatever. Mary brought Cameron Diaz and Matt Dillon to Miami for quite a spell. Shooting scenes in Coral Gables, Brickell, and various South Beach locales must have rubbed Diaz the right way. She became one of Miami's darlings, hanging out well after the movie wrapped. Dillon also made the most of his time here. He lived at the Hotel Astor, hung at Mac's Club Deuce, and happily mingled with the locals. The movie itself showcased Miami in a more flattering way than any flick in recent memory has.
His four-hour talk show, weekdays on WQAM from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., is ostensibly a sports program, but Goldberg's pugnacious punditry stretches far beyond the wide world of sports. One recent Tuesday afternoon, for example, "the Hammer" managed to pound on the following topics: Bagel Cove restaurant ("I was the only one there who didn't have blue hair"); Hialeah racetrack ("What's that skinny disease? Anorexia? An anorexic wouldn't throw up there"); and the War Between the Mayors over the Miami Circle ("Penelas is getting on my nerves again. If you can't see that he's grandstanding ..."). His relentless self-assurance, whether he's touting a 30-1 longshot at Gulfstream, railing against Miccosukee Indian Gaming, or chatting amiably with a Panthers defenseman, makes his an undeniable voice of authority. If you're looking for a truly independent, passionate, old-school chronicler of Miami sports -- and life -- forget the Herald. Trust the Hammer.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®