This is the real adult-contemporary format: DJs play everything from Motown to hip-hop, with no annoying commercials. Ads are rare on 97.7, though every once in a while an MC will plug a gig of his own or one of his buddies. But every business has bills to pay, right? This station is also interactive and community-oriented. Especially amusing are the rides: With a lively music bed, a DJ will ask a caller rapid-fire questions and the caller will respond. Example: "Will you give me money?"/"Yes I will, yes I will"/"How much will you give me?"/"Twenty dollars, twenty dollars." During high school football season, callers bring their team pride to the air for all to hear. We're not sure who is running the show after the FCC raided the Liberty City studios in July 1998 and carted away 97.7's two 1000-watt transmitters. But good ideas are like mushrooms that pop up overnight, and within a few weeks of the raid, the station was again on the air. When we get tired of the golden oldies and maudlin slow-dance-tune segments, we surf over to 89.1 FM (unlicensed) for a more raw and less eclectic hip-hop format, but the signal's a little weak.
This ballyard on the campus of the University of Miami is everything good about going to a baseball game, you think as you lean forward on your concrete bench along the first-base side of home. Especially on a late winter day like today, with enough clouds to offer shade yet not threaten rain, and the wind blowing briskly out to left. The visiting pitcher misses with a 1-0 breaking ball. "Baaaallll two!" the hard-core 'Canes fans hoot directly behind home plate. Yes, sir, you think. Despite the clink of aluminum bats, the brand of baseball played here, and the cozy, welcoming atmosphere of the 4500-seat stadium, can easily transport you back to a simpler era in the history of the Great American Pastime. The snack vendor begins his circuit, barking out his wares at a volume more appropriate to Pro Player Stadium. "Peanuts, popcorn, soda, Gatorade ..." A pause for dramatic effect, then: "SUURRRGE!" Some smiling 'Canesters know the routine and join the vendor in his call. A hard drive to right scores a run for the home team, and sets the fans to hollering. You can hear every one of them individually. The slap of high-fives at the plate is palpable. The sun starts angling down in the late innings. The bullpens are working. Maybe you'll have some peanuts.

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.
FTX Arena
Photo by B137
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.
The Times news broadcast has emerged as the most promising show on WAMI, Barry Diller's year-old effort to create the most glamorous UHF station in the world. Mankiewicz, host of the 10:00 p.m. Times, is already the sharpest anchor on the local airwaves. Admittedly it's a matter of style. Mankiewicz appeals to viewers who don't want their news anchors to be benevolent parents. He never invites his audience to join the WAMI family, for instance. Nor does he spout the banal chitchat that emanates from most anchor chairs. His delivery is self-deprecating. It's also professional and engaging. Serious tinkering is still needed before the The Times becomes the essential viewing it has the potential to be. Until it reaches that goal, Mankiewicz makes the show more than bearable.
Cruiserweight Daniels, a graduate of Jackson High, is the only Miami-born fighter to hold a major world title, the World Boxing Association championship from 1989 to 1991. He has been either a contender or a world champ almost all his professional career, which by now spans nearly fifteen years. Yet Daniels has never attracted the recognition his boxing skills merit, and at age 30 he's not likely to become a household name tomorrow. But he's still a threat in the ring. Just last May the scowling power-puncher scored a major upset by knocking out Don Diego Poeder in ten rounds in Biloxi, Mississippi, to win the International Boxing Organization title. The IBO may be worthless, but that underdog victory upped Daniels's record to 38-3-1, with 30 knockouts. Now he has trouble getting fights. He may be past his prime, but he's good enough to scare off anyone with something to lose.

FTX Arena
Photo by B137
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.
To watch a lot of local television news is to appreciate just how good a reporter is Mark Londner. Viewed side-by-side against his competition, the Channel 7 senior correspondent's story is likely to be the most thorough and the most balanced. Londner simply digs deeper to add the context that television news stories so often lack. Also excelling, in different ways, are WPLG-TV (Channel 10) political dean Michael Putney and WAMI-TV (Channel 69) upstart John Mattes, who displays welcome investigative acumen.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®