Best Boxing Figure To Die In The Past Year

Chris Dundee

Dundee, elder brother of legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee, was himself revered by generations of fans and practitioners of the sweet science, especially here in Miami. From the Fifties until an incapacitating stroke in 1990, Dundee promoted hundreds of shows in South Florida, including the classic Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston bout of 1964. He managed four world champions and dozens of contenders. And he turned Miami Beach's Fifth Street Gym into one of the world's most vibrant boxing epicenters. That gym is gone now, and Dundee's energetic personal style and love of the sport is sadly obsolete in today's boxing industry, tightly controlled by promotional monopolies and rich television contracts. Dundee was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994. He died of pneumonia on November 16, 1998, at the age of 91.
Resident folklorist at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, Steve Stuempfle is the leading proponent of Miami's unique popular culture. An authority on Trinidadian steel pan music, the 41-year-old Stuemplfe arrived here two years ago from New York and immediately leaped into the pot of disparate cultures that makes Miami great. The Historical Museum, located with the main library and the Miami Art Museum at 101 W. Flagler Street (305-375-1492), has become a showcase for the artistic and cultural traditions of South Florida's native and immigrant communities, and for artists who are usually (and inexplicably) ignored by the local museum community. Various exhibitions and cultural programs at the museum ("Percussion Traditions in Miami," "Florida Folklife," "Miami: The Gateway City") have featured Santería drummers, vodou priestesses, carnival musicians, and many other previously unsung local heroes. "I'd like to see action here at the museum on an ongoing basis that includes a variety of voices," Stuempfle says. "I want to get a lot of people interacting and thinking about what it's like to live in Miami."
Sylk, a recent hip-hop transplant from Philadelphia, took to Miami like an alligator to the Glades: He slid right into our cacophonous subtropical airwaves and made them his own. Shortly after his arrival, people began talking about "The Roll Call," his twice-nightly homage to listeners. "What's up, y'all, so what's it gonna be? Now, who's on the line with your homey Al B.?" People of all ages call in, usually right in sync with Sylk's rap, and "shout out" to their friends. Caller: "Tasha's in the house." Sylk: "Oh, baby." Caller: "Mica's in the house." Sylk: "Baby, baby." When callers stumble and miss a beat, they'll be gently chastised by Sylk: "You're a dodohead!" Miami's most popular DJ, 29 years old, also instituted the nightly A-Team announcement. At the beginning of every grading period listeners fax in school report cards. Sylk then picks people at random and calls them at home to congratulate them on the air. Even when he's shouting "Whoooo do you love? 'Cause you got to looooove somebody!" to close his Friday-night show, Sylk doesn't preach so much as he invites his audience to have as much fun as he's having.
Lawton Chiles
David Lawrence's columns

Best Spanish-Language Radio Personality

Pedro Sevcec

Widely known for his television show Sevcec on the Telemundo network, Sevcec's full range of talents are revealed on his radio show Sevcec Live, which airs from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Monday through Friday on Radio Unica. Sevcec himself says he is in his true element on the radio. Listen to the show and you'll see what he means. It is clear he's having a blast, and it's contagious. His staff lines up interviews with presidents and truck drivers for a program that roams from thoughtful analysis of Latin American elections to a story about a kid devoured by a shark. In between Sevcec demonstrates his remarkable ability to project empathy, which has garnered him the title, the "Latin Phil Donahue." Radio's informality allows the host to exercise his considerable wit, often with uproarious results.

Wish Restaurant
When L. Murray Dixon designed the corner structure on Miami Beach's Eighth Street and Collins Avenue in 1939, it went by the name Tiffany Hotel. It still did until late last year. That's when South Beach urban-renewal pioneer Tony Goldman and hipster designer Todd Oldham transformed the place into an unpretentious treasure. Something must have gone terribly right because almost immediately old-guard jeweler Tiffany & Co. began breathing down Goldman's neck, "urging" him to change the hotel's name. After a brief legal spat, the parties settled and the Tiffany was subsequently rechristened The Hotel, an exceedingly simple moniker that belies the striking atmosphere Oldham created. The gleaming white Streamline Moderne building blends in with its surroundings from the street, but step over the threshold and enter an oasis rendered in a lush array of colors. No sterile insane-asylum look here. Original gold, pink, and green terrazzo floors mix easily with new comfortable chairs and couches upholstered in mustard, aqua, sky, emerald, and avocado velvet and silk. White walls, blond wood, and generous-size bathrooms featuring sunny-color tile adorn the 52 rooms. No garish art on the walls, just discreet mirrors in frames. On the ground floor, in the hotel's restaurant Wish, a cluster of multicolor Murano glass globes hang from the ceiling, illuminating the cozy inside. Oversize white umbrellas shade those who prefer to eat outdoors. In a show of defiance, the building's narrow spire still bears the name "Tiffany" in neon.
So you think Miami is all about bubbleheads whose most intense reading comes from their hair-gel tubes, right? And about people who would say Verlaine is a brand of sunglasses and Pynchon a species of fish, right? Think again, dude. This town was practically founded by highly literate people from the northeastern United States, e.g., author Kirk Munroe, one of the first settlers of Coconut Grove in the late 1800s. These days the area's best-known men and women of letters are realists such as Carl Hiaasen, Les Standiford, James Hall, and Edna Buchanan. They cater to the popular tastes, and we love that stuff. But every vibrant literary scene needs a journal, because quality and experimentation do not always reach the mass market. Instructors at Florida International University founded Gulf Stream Magazine in 1989 when they launched the school's master's program for creative writing. "We particularly look for work we think is energetic, well made, and provocative," editor Lynne Barrett says. Call that statement a synechdoche for Miami. You can subscribe or order single issues by calling the FIU creative-writing department, or buy a copy from Books & Books.

No booming THX sound. No giant curved screen. No reclining overstuffed seats that look like they fell off a spaceship. No handy drink holders. No uniformed minions peddling hot dogs, nachos, and candy. No computerized ticket dispensers. No call ahead and charge. No TV monitors broadcasting what time the movie you came to see will be playing. A smallish big screen, 192 comfortably rickety seats. A discerning selection of first-run, second-run, and foreign films. A cozy lobby with couches, tables, and chairs where you can sip an espresso or a soda, scarf your popcorn and Snickers, chat with other cineastes, silently read a magazine, or just listen to the piped-in music. In short a charming and user-friendly theater run by two gregarious guys, Johnny Calderin and Cesar Hernandez-Canton, who remember what going to the movies was like before the advent of the multiplex.

I'm new in town. Just rode in from Kansas City. I'm also hungry. Shuffling down Biscayne and eyeing some mighty fine ladies who look sorta hungry, too. Well, there's a Denny's right there on the corner. I walk in and the place is packed at ten o'clock on a Wednesday night. I can see a table of nuns in one corner and a table of something -- they've got little undershirts over their big oiled-up muscles -- in another corner. I'm sitting at the counter thinking about a chicken-fried steak. Behind me is a nice couple with two kids, all dressed up, maybe come in after Wednesday-night prayer meeting. Over on the other side of the room I see this girl with her hair stacked up into a point, like the Empire State Building on her head. She's with a guy loaded down with gold rings and chains and tattoos, but he don't have no hair at all. All of a sudden yelling breaks out at a booth. "Well, you're hungry, not me," a waitress sniffs. Then a huge roly-poly woman in a skintight leopard-skin dress, she rises up, takes a step toward the retreating waitress, and tackles her around the shoulders, like wrestling a steer. "You gonna be sorry!" Roly-Poly shouts. "Your incompetence and laziness done you in! I wanna see the manager!" Now, anyone who's been here five minutes can see there is no management at this restaurant; it's the Wild West, with all kinds of characters and grifters and drifters walking in, just wanting a cup of coffee and a Grand Slam, and getting a big slice of Miami while they wait. And wait.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®