We all know that single men are experts on every subject. (Gee, could that help explain why they're still single?) So what better place to play up to their egos than a video rental store? Not only can you ask for advice, you can also tell a lot about the guy by the video he chooses. For instance if he's got a drama in hand, he's probably sensitive and understanding. A foreign flick shows he's educated, open-minded, or worldly and sophisticated. But if he's carrying around an action film, be careful. He could be your average dullard into domestic violence. Comedy? That could mean he's light on his feet and quick-witted, but maybe just a bit fearful of commitment. Something XXX from the adult section? Please, let's not even go there.
Food is a potent aphrodisiac. Ariana Kumpis understands this. Sprinkled in amid her school's more serious fare ("All About Mushrooms," "Phyllo Delicacies") are several whimsical events geared toward the unhitched. A couple of examples coming up in June are "Sushi for Singles" and "Singles Pasta Evening." Guys, this is a good idea. If past classes are any indication, there are bound to be more women than men. Expect those women to be a little more sophisticated than the ones you're meeting at Hooters. And improving your cooking skills can only garner you goodwill. On top of that, if you meet someone you're interested in, you not only have built-in conversation, but an innocuous way to get together again: to practice what you learned. Class size is between twelve and eighteen, and each class lasts three hours. The cost is $30. You can also expect major points in your favor for simply showing an interest in cooking, at least that's what Carmen Celeiro, Ariana's manager, says. "I think men who cook are great. It means they're very sensual."
It'll cost you a dollar to catch a glimpse of this postcard setting across the Rickenbacker Causeway, but once over the threshold, you'll see South Florida as most South Floridians only wish it could be. There's so much here to keep you busy that the highlights alone will take a full day.

If the kids haven't joined PETA yet, start with Virginia Key's old-fashioned Miami Seaquarium and its killer whales, manatees, dolphins, and sea lions. Then for a real contrast to the typical tourist trap, find your way to Jimbo's by following the road directly across from Seaquarium's parking lot. A crew of salty regulars soak up the sun with an old movie set as their backdrop. Although it's technically a bait shop, Jimbo's is famous for its smoked fish, cold beer, and crusty characters playing bocce and philosophizing.

The beaches at Virginia Key and Key Biscayne qualify as some of Miami's best, and though Virginia Key's are officially closed and provide no lifeguards, die-hards can still swim and sun there. The less daring can head for Key Biscayne's Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area. The Crandon shoreline is sublime, but don't overlook the hidden treasure: the old county zoo, now called the Gardens at Crandon Park, a serenely beautiful landscape of ponds, wildlife, and lush vegetation adjoining the southernmost parking lot.

At the island's tip is Bill Baggs, named for a former outspoken editor of the defunct Miami News. Still recovering from Hurricane Andrew, which knocked down thousands of Australian pines, the park has been replanted entirely with native species. All the amenities have been rebuilt as well, and now the airy Lighthouse Cafe offers splendid ocean views to match its outstanding seafood soup. The actual lighthouse (South Florida's oldest standing structure) survived the hurricane, was recently restored, and is open for tours every day but Tuesday and Wednesday. A beachside concession rents sea kayaks, hydro-bikes, and sailboards for those who want to get physical.

Bill Baggs closes when the sun sets -- just in time to make your way back to Bayside Seafood Restaurant. This thatched-roof, open-air hangout can be found by following the road for the old Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key. The simply prepared fresh seafood is reasonably priced. The fish sandwiches aren't bad either. But the mosquitoes can be. Just ask the staff for some insect spray. They're prepared.

"A lot of people claim I'm a rabble-rouser, a curmudgeon," Robert Gewanter says. "But I really don't see myself like that. I see myself like the little boy in the story 'The Emperor's New Clothes.' I'm just here to say the emperor is naked." Gewanter has been saying it every day for the past six years on the message board in front of his store, posting often hilarious little poems about the sad state of affairs in South Florida. Some samples: "Natacha Millan/The junket queen/Has a diploma/That no one has seen." "Ankle monitor unfair/Senator Gutman cackled/Damn right Alberto/U should be shackled." "Virgin birth/No evidence empirical/Re-elect Xavier Suarez/Now that'd be a miracle." "Joe come back/Tell us no lies/We forgive crack/But Rosario's no prize." "Please vote/That would be nice/Heck, it's Hialeah/You can vote twice."
Pity the poor Orange Bowl parade. After 62 years the annual nighttime procession up and down Biscayne Boulevard now teeters on the brink of irrelevance. What once was a national spectacle that reached 12 million television viewers has devolved into the nation's largest small-town parade. At the most recent event the mayor and the police chief rode by atop a convertible on loan from a local auto dealer. The state-championship high school football team waved from fire engines. Marching bands from local high schools and middle schools paraded past in not-quite-lockstep. Municipal workers donated time to construct funky floats that would not be out of place in a suburban high school homecoming parade. Yet despite the low-rent atmosphere, the Orange Bowl parade remains the Magic City's most magical night. It is one of the few times in Miami that Anglos, blacks, and Hispanics smile while mingling. During this past parade, a Nicaraguan family grinned when an Anglo neighbor sublet his shoulders to a tiny black girl in need of an elevated viewing perch. In this context the provincial nature of the parade is not a drawback. It is endearing. Miami never feels more accessible and friendly.
Named president and CEO of Union Planters Bank of Florida this past year, Adolfo Henriques oversees a financial institution with more than two billion dollars in assets. But it is his involvement in the community that earns him the most respect. As chairman of the Financial Emergency Oversight Board for the City of Miami, he helped see that troubled municipality through its money woes. As chairman of the Beacon Council he has worked to recruit new businesses and jobs to Miami-Dade County. And as first vice-chairman (now chairman) of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, he promoted this community around the world. The 45-year-old, Havana-born Henriques is one of the leading fundraisers for the United Way, serves on the boards of the New World Symphony and Florida International University, and is a member of the Florida Board of Regents. Friends and colleagues of Henriques (who is married and has three teenage children) marvel at his ability to take on so many responsibilities and handle them all so well.
If it was in the news, José Quiñon was on the case. In fifteen years as one of Miami's top criminal defense attorneys, Quiñon defended a dizzying roster of Miami marauders. From Operation Court Broom to Operation Greenpalm, from Gutman to Gary, from oft-indicted Hialeah potentate Raul Martinez to Cuban American National Foundation president Pepe Hernandez. For a short while Quiñon even represented the defrocked basketball team at Miami High School. Then he had to go to a Grove nightclub and share margarita-flavored kisses with Esther Hernandez, wife of high-profile client Humberto. The illicit relationship cost "Q" at least $242,000 in legal fees paid by the former Miami city commissioner, and an awful lot more in reputation. It could even lead to his disbarment. Along the way it produced this joke: Why did Esther Hernandez cry when her husband was convicted of voter fraud and money laundering? Because her boyfriend lost the case.
Tough couple of years for the 36-year-old Hialeah native. Now that she's awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in April to federal corruption charges, the great irony is this: She's in a tight spot, facing up to ten years in prison, because some of her pals wanted to help her out of a tight spot. After being elected to the Hialeah City Council in 1993, Rovira earned a reputation as a close ally of Mayor Raul Martinez. Sadly her third marriage ended with a contentious divorce in 1996; she got custody of her two children but lost her banquet-hall business. In July of that year she got a job with the Port of Miami, for $39,799 per year, as an "international trade specialist." But as the investigation of former port director Carmen Lunetta heated up, Rovira's post was revealed to be among the alleged "no-show" jobs Lunetta had doled out as favors to his political allies. In mid-1997, then-County Manager Armando Vidal fired her. Her fourth marriage went into the crapper in early 1998. In her search for new work, she turned to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, applying for a teaching position (with a résumé that included the port job). She was hired as a replacement social studies teacher for the 1998-99 school year, but federal prosecutors cut short her teaching and political careers in November, arresting her as part of the port scandal. The school district allowed her to resign, and the governor suspended her from the city council. A phrase Rovira might want to incorporate into her lexicon once she gets out of the slammer: "Don't do me any favors!"
There is little doubt that losing in 1994 made Jeb Bush a better candidate for governor in 1998. It also may have made him a better person. Bush worked hard this past year to broaden his appeal to the people of Florida, reaching out to black voters and listening to their concerns. He also tempered his rhetoric, talking less about hot-button social issues such as abortion and school prayer, and concentrated instead on education and criminal justice. Needless to say, the voters responded. Bush's victory over Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay was resounding, and the early days of his administration have shown promise. Bush always said he left Texas and came to Miami in the Eighties to make a name for himself and to create his own opportunities. He's done that. Now it's time to see what he'll do with them.
It's been five years since county commissioners, in a politically charged vote, selected Armando Vidal as their county manager over Cynthia Curry. At the time Curry was seen as the big loser. What a difference five years can make. Today the county is racked by scandals and mismanagement. Commissioners have been arrested, department heads indicted, and Vidal, fired by the mayor who helped install him in the first place, is now working for the City of Hialeah. And Curry? Well, she is doing just fine, thank you. She came through the county manager selection process with her dignity intact and left the county to become a vice-president for business and finance at Florida International University. She was tapped by the governor to serve on the Financial Emergency Oversight Board keeping an eye on the City of Miami. She led the county's successful effort to have a portion of Miami-Dade designated as an empowerment zone, making it eligible for tens of millions of dollars in state and federal aid. And earlier this year the 43-year-old Curry left FIU to open a company with her husband, CWC & Associates, which will pursue business opportunities in South Florida. "I'm at that maturation point in my career where I need to do this," Curry recently told the Herald. "I've always wanted to be ultimately responsible, and this does it."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®