Where have you gone, Art Teele? We keep expecting to see the Miami city commissioner's face on milk cartons. Heck, we're not even sure any more where he lives. Ever since his name surfaced in connection with the ongoing investigation into wrongdoing at the Port of Miami, the usually outgoing Teele has kept the lowest of profiles. That's too bad. The city could use his booming rhetoric to stir things up from time to time. It's certainly boring around here without him.
Although the Herald's Joan Fleischman remains the gold standard of gossip in these parts, José Lambiet is a welcome new voice. Since landing a column this past September, the Sun-Sentinel's "South Florida Insider" has broken plenty of juicy news nuggets: a paternity lawsuit filed against former Marlins slugger Gary Sheffield; a snit between (WFOR-TV) Channel 4 anchor Angela Rae and poet Maya Angelou; and actor Jamie Foxx filing charges against On Any Sunday costar LL Cool J after a fight scene in the production of Oliver Stone's new movie turned all-too real. A self-described "go-where-the-action-is kind of guy," Lambiet covers all of South Florida, from South Beach, where figure-skating pixie Tara Lipinski avoided the line at Tiramesu, to Palm Beach County, where boxer Michael Moore was sucker-punched at the Boca Raton Mezzanote. Lambiet even ventured down to a Little Havana outlet store to report on the purchase of a trash can by ballplayer Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. Ever scrupulous, Lambiet disclosed that the can was a Rubbermaid.
County Commissioner Katy Sorenson is a politician devoid of subterfuge. There are no hidden agendas with her. She is exactly the way she seems: honest, sincere, forthright. Others may not agree with her positions on civic issues, but no one questions her integrity. The past twelve months marked Sorenson's best year on the commission since her arrival in 1994. She successfully led the charge to pass a gay rights ordinance. She was the first politician to speak out in favor of saving the Miami Circle. And she was one of only two commissioners brave enough to say the county needs to increase its sales tax as a dedicated source of transportation funding. Four years ago when she beat Larry Hawkins, Sorenson was an unknown. Voters weren't really voting for her as much as they were voting against Hawkins, who had become mired in allegations of sexual harassment. This past fall Sorenson won re-election, and this time the victory was all hers.
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."
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.
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.
Foeman has never been charged with taking bribes. He's never committed voter fraud. Nor has he used his public position, one of the top three posts at the City of Miami, to slip influence to local developers or to lobby against Fidel Castro, a real possibility in a government historically obsessed with foreign affairs. Foeman survived Operation Greenpalm because he's a true representative who serves his constituents with solid professionalism. Most days he arrives at his Dinner Key office early in the morning, laboring in solitude before the phones begin to ring. The staff he oversees is the nicest, most helpful bunch of civil servants in the city, if not the entire county. Like Foeman, they work hard while keeping their politics to themselves.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®