In this town where a party is something that takes place in a nightclub, organized by a professional event planner, the spontaneous spook show on Lincoln Road is wonderfully refreshing. Drawn by little more than the fact that the pedestrian walkway is an ace spot to see and be seen, the crowds gather. Women strut in full Brazilian carnival regalia, a harness of feathers spreading over the entire width of the sidewalk. Men in Louis XV period costumes -- powdered wigs, lace cuffs, and all -- bow gracefully. Tourists gawk. No one organizes this. There is no guest list or velvet rope. You won't be asked to pay for the privilege of observing. This is an egalitarian pleasure. And the feeling of brotherhood spreads quickly. With so many conversation-starters ("Where on earth did you get that sequined codpiece?"), talk among strangers is easy. Next thing you know, rounds of drinks are bought. But alas, we fear these may be the waning days. The new multiplex and the intrusion of chain stores may make the Road less hospitable to the creative spirits who gather here on All Hallow's Eve.

Best Ten-Round Fight For Women's Rights

Roxcy Bolton

Did you hear the one about the genteel Southern woman who kicked some old-boy-network butt? Roxcy Bolton has been delivering punch lines like this for decades. Her intrepid spirit and quick thinking have brought about momentous changes in the arena of women's rights in Miami. Some women work to break the glass ceiling, the systemic barriers women face in rising to traditionally male positions of power and prestige. Roxcy Bolton, true to her agricultural upbringing, was busy breaking ground, the hard, untended ground of feminism in South Florida in the late Sixties, making strides for women's basic human rights over the years by advocating, among many other things, a rape treatment center, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the right of women to nurse their babies in public. In 1996, 30 years after becoming the first Floridian to join the National Organization for Women, Bolton was inducted into Miami's Centennial Hall of Fame. Her latest groundbreaking event? The opening of the Women's Park History Gallery on March 7, 1999 (for International Women's Day). The Women's Park at West Flagler and 103rd Court, which Bolton founded, is the first of its kind in the nation. After suffering a stroke and a heart attack this past year, the 72-year-old Bolton is finally giving herself a well-deserved rest. But you can bet she'll be on the frontlines should a war between the sexes break out.
Lobbyist Chris Korge is a master ventriloquist. Just look at his most recent performance before the Miami-Dade County Commission. One of Korge's clients, BellSouth, wanted to sneak through an extension to their lucrative pay-telephone contract with the county. So Korge tapped one of his favorite dummies, Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, to make the motion. While watching Barreiro "speak" in favor of the extension, most people in the audience could barely see Korge's lips moving. Ultimately the maneuver failed, but we understand Korge is undeterred. He's working on a new act. This time he's going to drink a glass of water while making Barreiro "talk." Good luck, Chris. It won't be long before Vegas beckons you and your little buddy to open for Wayne Newton.
On May 14, 1998 the environmental conscience of South Florida passed from the scene. Marjory Stoneman Douglas died five weeks after her 108th birthday. Although she wrote eight books (including an autobiography) during her long life, it was her 1947 classic, The Everglades: River of Grass, that helped elevate her from writer to icon. Douglas is rightly compared with Rachel Carson, another environmental visionary whose 1962 exposé, Silent Spring, alerted the public to ecological folly. Douglas's tenacity, eloquence, passion, and yes, longevity, gave the Everglades a champion of unique authority. Those who contemplate an eight-billion-dollar Everglades restoration project would do well to heed her insistence that the area is best helped by removing canals and levees, not by constructing more of them. Despite blindness in her later years, the Coconut Grove matron never lost sight of one simple fact: Our own survival and that of the Everglades are inextricably bound.
Wasn't it Nietzsche who posed this existential conundrum: "Why wash it? It'll just get dirty again." If this is your philosophy, chances are you're not too keen on paying someone to polish your clunker. But even a die-hard nihilist could be swayed by the talents of the Supershine crew. For $10.95 they'll perform the automotive equivalent of a baptism. It begins with the hand wash. Then the vacuuming and wiping down of the interior, where they attend to nooks and crannies you haven't even managed to get crumbs in yet. Then on to the detailing, where they make your whitewalls gleam with a liquid silicone concoction. By the time they've towel-dried the exterior, you won't recognize your wheels. "You sure clean up good," you'll say. Of course they offer a cheaper outside-only job, and all manner of more deluxe wash and wax services, one of which includes (and we quote) "bug removal." Though the basic in-and-out is the best deal, you might be tempted to pay the extra three bucks just to see how bug removal works. For example, what if you pay for bug removal and don't have any bugs? Or worse -- you don't pay for it and you do have bugs? Do they intentionally ignore the bugs stuck to your car? Work around them? Anyway they're open seven days, they have a clean, cool office with a good selection of magazines and local papers, TV, and free coffee. In half an hour (longer if you hit a line) you're on your way, marveling over your sparkling vehicle.
This is one combustible town. In the past year we've had brushfires and a tanker-truck explosion close highways. We had a bird's-eye view when a welder sent passengers scrambling aboard the cruise ship Ecstasy. We saw an unhappy Hialeah citizen set Raul Martinez's car ablaze, a beach lover torch the faux wooden village behind the Delano Hotel, and a music critic firebomb the Amnesia nightclub just before a Cuban band took the stage. Yet of all the conflagrations to beset this area, none seemed as thrilling as the fire that raged atop that overpriced eyesore on the bay, the American Airlines Arena. As the sun set that November day, people gathered around their television sets to cheer on the blaze. Of course no one hoped for injuries, not to the construction workers and certainly not to the firefighters. But a large segment of the population sincerely wanted to see the thing burn to the ground. We came together as a community on that day.
Sport utility vehicles, colored contact lenses, designer cell phones -- all trappings of this town's torrid affair with flash. We'll mortgage our souls to almighty plastic for an opportunity to show off. No surprise, then, that the prospect of a shiny new waterfront sports arena lit us up like a nine-year-old at Christmas. Indulgent Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas gladly kicked in millions to help the Miami Heat and American Airlines bring us a facility other cities will envy well into the third millennium: hip Arquitectonica design, outdoor café, elevated bridge to Bayside for easy-access shopping. Sure those hotel and transportation taxes might sting down the road, but for now a little nose-thumbing is in order. Who else's overpaid athletes can practice with a view of the bay? Who else's big spenders can retire from an evening of courtside seats and fine dining to an exclusive underground parking garage? The comically close-by Miami Arena creates an air of extravagant excess, sulking in the AAArena's shadow like last year's Ford Explorer, set aside to accommodate the new Expedition. Excess, even a bit of waste, is acceptable because, as any native can tell you, it's not how much you spend but how you look that matters. And the new AAArena looks like a million bucks. Make that 295 million.

Best Reason To Stay In Miami During The Summer

Midnight swims

The Atlantic Ocean in August: bathtub-warm, no crowds, lots of stars overhead.
He's in great shape, he's handsome, and as far as we know he's still single. This stud from a long, well-bred line (a little hip dysplasia a few generations back, but that's all straightened out now) is Gunther IV, the sly dog that bid on Sly's bayfront mansion. Unlike Miami's other resident German magnate (the one who took the honors for "Best Ego" back in 1994), Gunther made more friends than enemies during his Miami visit. But when crack investigative reporters revealed it was really the Gunther Corporation, not Gunther the shepherd, with all the bucks, Gunther's fifteen minutes of fame came to an abrupt end. No more whining and dining, being feted by celebrities, and escorted to the most exclusive VIP (Very Important Pooch) rooms. These days Gunther is back in the doghouse, his fame tarnished and fading, much like someone else we know.
In 1992 Hurricane Andrew churned with all its fury over the old estate of industrialist Charles Deering that had been a public park since 1985. The stone mansion Deering built in 1922 stood up remarkably well, suffering mainly bashed doors and windows, waist-deep water on the first floor, and the loss of a few outside columns. But the wooden Richmond Cottage, first erected in 1896, was reduced to kindling, not even its stone chimney surviving intact. The rest of the 420-acre park fared little better; mammoth royal palm trees were destroyed and mangroves trashed. Fast-forward seven years and $11 million later. An army of builders, painters, carvers, and restorers have done the impossible: returned both houses to (nearly) their original state and adhered to Miami-Dade County's rigorous building code. Restorers have concentrated on authenticity right down to the cottage's mismatched wood siding. In the stone house, handmade glass and Cuban lap tiles were installed. Copper and bronze doors turned black by saltwater were returned to a luminescent sheen. On the outside close to two million dollars were spent to eradicate exotic plants and restore native species. The site is open to the public again. Old man Deering would be proud.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®