"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.
Living in South Florida allows us to experience certain things people residing elsewhere simply cannot, such as passport checks at the county line, close encounters with automatic weapons, and cruising to Nassau at 50 miles per hour aboard a humongous catamaran. The Cat, 300-feet long and 85-feet wide, is a massive vessel that can carry up to 750 people. If its actual size and sleek profile aren't impressive enough, consider this: Every second its four 9500-horsepower engines displace enough water to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools, and at cruising speed it shoots out a rooster tail almost as long as the craft itself. The Cat departs Port of Miami daily (except Wednesday) at 9:00 a.m., and leaves Nassau at 4:30 p.m. To keep you busy during the five-hour trip, there's a bar, gambling, live entertainment, and movies. The day trip costs $119 plus tax and port charges; overnight packages range from $169 to $339 plus tax and port charges. Prices could change, so be sure to call ahead.
Admission to the grandstand is free. Parking is 50 cents. The rest -- how much to bet on the dogs -- is up to you. But along with the free entrance, you get much more. First, there's that ineffable thing called ambiance. The Flagler track and its habitués are about as far from the synthetic world of the shopping-mall entertainment complex as you can possibly get. This place is loaded with appealingly authentic grit. Then there are the more recent innovations. To battle lagging attendance, the track has augmented the racing canines with live boxing matches, carnivals, and low-stakes poker rooms. And it doesn't take much more to feel like a really big spender: Three dollars gets you inside the clubhouse. The greyhound racing season runs from June to November. The rest of the year you can watch races on TV -- for free, of course.
Coconut Grove Playhouse
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.
This man has cojones like no one else. Earlier this year he asked the Hialeah City Council to pay him $1.2 million to cover his back pay (with interest) during the three years he was suspended from office while successfully fighting multiple federal corruption charges. He also wanted his legal fees covered. The only thing more amazing than the request itself was the fact that the council quickly agreed and paid him with little debate or rancor. Personal financial affairs in order, Martinez then charged ahead with grandiose plans to secede from Miami-Dade and form a new municipal entity: Hialeah County.
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.

It was a little after 4:00 a.m. this past July 3 when ten-year-old Vincent awakened to the smell of smoke in his Liberty City home. "I woke up because it got so hot," Vincent told the Herald last year. "The smoke detector was going off, and the hall was filled with smoke. At first I didn't even know what was going on -- I was so sleepy." Acting quickly he woke his 16-year-old brother and his 85-year-old great-grandmother. "We've had fire safety classes that no one thought was important, but I remembered what they taught us in school," said Vincent, a sixth-grader at Charles Drew Middle School. "I noticed smoke, stopped, rolled on the floor to my mom's room, woke everyone up and got them out." The cause of the fire was accidental; the family was without electricity and kept a candle burning for light. It tipped over during the night, igniting a blaze that ultimately destroyed the wood-frame house. Thanks to Vincent's actions, no one was hurt. "I'm very proud of him," his great-grandmother said. "He's my baby, my heart, and he saved our lives."
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.
Some police officers aren't fond of that term. "We don't do speed traps," one says. "We do selective traffic enforcement." Yeah, Smokey, whatever. We know they love to lurk, and the lurkiest of all are Miami Shores's finest. Their quiet little village stands astride four major north-south arteries, giving the coppers there ample high-speed prey. A particularly rich hunting ground is Biscayne Boulevard, right where it curves northeast at NE 88th Street. The smooth asphalt and wider lanes here fairly scream to a Miami motorist's raging id, "Fifty! Do fifty!" Listen to your dark side and you'll likely run afoul of the black-and-gold Shores cruiser tucked away in the parking lot of the Hacienda Motel. On top of that, this past year the department instituted a zero-tolerance-for-speeding program called "Safe and Slow." Be afraid.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®