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.

This collection of more than 100 black-and-white pictures by University of Miami photography professor Michael Carlebach reveals a quirky sensibility wedded to polished technique. Carlebach's images are drawn from the Sixties through the Nineties, and though the settings include locations throughout the United States, the vast majority were shot in South Florida. The photographer has an eye for both the absurd and the inherent frailties of human existence: A worker sits looking bored at an ear-wax eradication booth in Coconut Grove; a couple who could have stepped out of a Jim Jarmusch movie shoot pistols in the Everglades; two elderly women dance together in a cavernous hall in Miami Beach. After viewing this book, it's clear that Carlebach's affinity for the odd and Miami's flair for the bizarre were made for each other.
Thanks to the proliferation of Broadway tours, South Florida audiences are never far from at least a glimmer of the Great White Way. What's harder to sample are the off-Broadway hits, shows whose quirkiness or bold attitudes preclude them from fitting into the mainstream. One such musical was Das Barbecü, the riotous, Hee-Haw-inspired adaptation of Wagner's Ring cycle presented by the Actors' Playhouse. How do you stage a spoof of a three-day opera marathon in two and a half hours? Apparently by throwing together Giants, Norns, Rivermaidens, star-crossed lovers, and the rest of the gang of Teutonic trillers (all possessed of Broadway voices) with sequins, lassos, and kitschy lyrics. "I could eat a/Pound of Velveeta" is one of the memorable lines we can't get out of our head. Nor do we ever want to.

It's a strange job, pretending to be someone else. But when Peter Haig takes on a role, he dons an entire new universe along with it. This past season we caught him portraying two appealingly morbid characters: Vincent Vincent, a representative of a do-it-yourself euthanasia group in Eric Chappell's comedy Natural Causes; and the Devil in Ten Short Plays about Death, an entry in City Theatre's Summer Shorts series. We liked him when he portrayed the Grim Reaper as a henpecked husband in the short sketch. But we truly wanted to die (laughing, that is) during his inspired performance in Natural Causes. Haig's acting choices are too intelligent to go unnoticed, yet never so obtrusive as to call undue attention to themselves. Call us when he strikes again.

Plenty of actresses can hold your attention while half-dressed in a bra and slip, but can you think of one who can get you to forget what she's wearing and instead try to figure out what's going on inside her head? Think of Debra Whitfield, who portrayed a self-possessed political lobbyist in Michael T. Folie's The Adjustment at the Florida Stage. Whitfield spent much of her stage time in her underwear, but there was nothing flimsy about her performance. In this Florida premiere, smartly directed by Gail Garrisan, the actress maneuvered her character around the stage with the confidence of someone who could lead a small country into war and never lose concentration. Whitfield may have displayed a lot of flesh, but her performance was all heart and brain.
Admit it, you like fun movies. It's okay, the artsy types can't hear you; they've moved over to their own artsy theater category. Squinting at subtitles is nice, but truth be told, you find a good high-speed chase, fart joke, or sci-fi calamity more cathartic. Sunset Place offers 24 screens of simultaneous purgation, plus all the goodies: stadium seating, cushy thronelike chairs, more candy than Willie Wonka, and that nifty machine that lets you use credit and skip the lines. Enjoy the flick? The novelization, soundtrack, and promotional plush toy can all be purchased faster than you can say megaplex, baby. (And it's also okay to admit you like the Shops at Sunset Place.)
Seekers along the path of enlightenment will be glad to find Michelle Weber, a diminutive yet powerful yogi who floats around Miami to teach more than a dozen classes per week in Coconut Grove, Fisher Island, South Beach, downtown Miami, and South Miami. In addition to four years of training in Ashtanga, the 29-year-old Weber also has a master's degree in applied psychology. She says her knowledge of science, including biofeedback, helps her to see patterns of tension in her students that she can alleviate through yoga. Her classes are rigorous, but they don't have the competitive edge found elsewhere; even Weber's most advanced classes emphasize letting go over struggling. Depending on the location, 90-minute group sessions cost about $12. Private sessions start at $70.

The very survival of Haiti's richly diverse culture is uncertain, threatened by decades of social, political, and economic dislocation and destruction. It's notable, then, that there are widely thought to be more books written in Haitian Creole on Libreri Mapou's shelves than in the entire nation of Haiti. And by now the number of educated Haitians who have fled their homeland surely exceeds the number still living there. Because of this tragic diaspora, if for no other reason, Libreri Mapou is an important preserver of culture and history. But it's more than a bookstore. Owner Jan Mapou has made his two-story shop into the closest thing to a cultural community center that exists in Little Haiti: a nesting place and workshop for his Sosyete Koukouy (Firefly Society) dance and drama troupe, and for a host of Haitian writers, painters, and artisans. Besides books and periodicals (in French, English, and Creole), Mapou offers for sale all manner of Haitian art and crafts he buys either in Haiti or from artists here. And perhaps more telling, people seem to think of Libreri Mapou as a sort of library reference section -- the place to call when they have questions about Haiti.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®