Best Local Defense Against Terrorism

Call us old-fashioned patriots, but we do all our gift buying at the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens. This nonprofit operates out of the American Police Hall of Fame (the Biscayne Boulevard building with the cop car climbing its façade). We can't tell you the number of times we've gotten out of a jam by giving a dear friend or relative the "Pig Face Specialty Lapel Pin" ($4.95) or the double-locking steel handcuffs ($18). As door prizes at dinner parties, we've often distributed wallet-size cards inscribed with the Pledge of Allegiance, room for a signature, and the phrase "I am a card-carrying American" (available in packs of 100 for only $5). Our favorite gift, though, is the "Honor Membership in the Citizens Task Force for Civil Defense Preparedness." It comes with a six-point star nestled in a black-leather wallet and has been issued "in response to the threat against our nation by terrorist states." From the brochure: "I am sure you are aware that Iraq has produced enough poison gas to kill every man, woman, and child on Earth! And that other nations are also involved in terrorist threats against the United States. In addition to our mission to aid the families of police officers killed in the line of duty, we also have as a mission to promote civil defense preparedness. The purpose of this membership star, identification card, and leather wallet is to identify members in good standing who, when called upon by local police, will offer their assistance in an emergency. From the simple task of making phone calls to people in need to offering aid in any natural or manmade disaster.... Understand that the badge does not imply or grant you any police powers. It certifies that you are an Honor Member who may be willing, if called upon by local police, to assist them in an emergency. (Most states, in fact, have laws that require a citizen, when called upon, to assist any peace officer in an emergency.) This star and wallet may help to identify you as a person willing to assist during such a time." The cost is only $75, and it comes with "a preaddressed enrollment in a course that we highly recommend: Emergency Response to Terrorism Self-Study. It is FREE and you can attain a certificate of training by completing the test at the end of the course."
How to tell Miami's film buffs from our town's film fanatics? Simple. The buffs can be found on Sunday afternoons inside the Alliance Cinema, forsaking a day at the beach for two hours in a darkened room, blissfully soaking up that week's Cinema Vortex selection. As for Miami's premier film fanatic, that would be Baron Sherer, the fair-haired young man orchestrating the whole shebang: taking tickets, hunching over the projector, often painstakingly splicing together the reels. It's obviously a labor of love for Sherer, with the only real payoff being the sheer joy of turning audiences on to his own personal faves and latest cinematic discoveries. And like the best film series, Cinema Vortex most definitely is an extension of its curator -- Sherer's brain unspooling before a flickering light. That means plenty of vintage film noir, lost classics of the American New Wave like Point Blank, as well as offbeat foreign flicks such as last year's Made in Hong Kong and Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 dystopian portrait Alphaville. The common denominator is simply good taste and the unspoken realization that you won't see any of these movies anywhere else in Miami.
Sex sells, and Tantra is well aware of it. You could even call this restaurant self-aware, the play toward sensuality is so over-the-top. That's why the cuisine has been labeled "aphrodisiac," and dishes have been given fanciful names: A tomato salad is called the "Love Apple" and a Roquefort-Bartlett pear salad is called "The French Kiss." In addition to the menu, you've got owner Tim Hogle, self-confessed "dentist to the stars." Then there's the Tantric décor, designed to stimulate all five senses (not to mention a little below-the-waist action): living grass carpet, marble-backed waterfall, Indian sculptures, and incense that burns like the eternal light. Stir together a mix of celebrities like Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio, Whitney Houston, and Courtney Love, all of whom have lent their own notorious reps to the place. Then charge as much as you can get away with -- say, $20 for a seared foie gras appetizer, or $46 for a veal steak, or $14 for a wedge of flourless chocolate cake. Voilà! The ideal tourist trap. The saving grace? Chef Willis Loughhead's cuisine is almost worth the hype.
This slickly produced site offers much more than just a peek at a nubile young blonde lounging around her Miami Beach apartment in Victoria's Secret lingerie, with friends who are likewise scantily clad. This is South Beach pixilated. It's about time America's Sodom and Gomorrah had its own Web presence. Happily this is no sleazy porn site, nor is it a classless voyeur site with cameras placed in a sorority-house bathroom. Cher shares herself in a teasingly erotic yet tasteful manner. It's a virtual jaunt about town with beautiful girls as they relax on sunny beaches or party in dim nightclubs (links are provided to many of the Beach's club and restaurant Websites). All for only ten dollars per month. Some lonely soul in Minnesota is very thankful. Cher obviously enjoys being the star of her own show. Cameras record her movements in her living room; she's contemplating a bedroom cam as well. A gracious hostess, she makes a point of e-mailing her admirers in real time. Believe it or not, Cher was a mortgage-banker trainee before she realized she could make more money broadcasting her life and tapping into the South Beach obsession with skin and sun.
With the number of legal works of graffiti in the area increasing, the results have been larger projects done in plain view. The Boardroom is one of these pieces. Easily visible to traffic traveling north on NW 27th Avenue, the mural is a purist's dream. Measuring about 12 feet by 55 feet, The Boardroom demonstrates skills in three-dimensional drawing and old-school balloon lettering of artists' tags yet maintains a unified vision as a collaborative work. The Dam Graffiti Crew, which created the mural, includes Ultra, Reuz, Gwiz, Kedz, Elex, Freek, Threat, Task, and Furious. (They prefer to be known only by their tag.) The mural is a self-portrait of the group, featuring cartoonlike renderings of the members seated at a boardroom table. Dressed in military uniforms and blue suits in the painting, they strike various poses of concern and urgency. One slams a fist on the table, another jams down an index finger. Closer inspection of the table reveals that it is made up of the twisted and elongated three letters of the crew's name, "Dam." Above the nine seated individuals hover the artists' names in that baroque calligraphy, the literal and figurative signature of this urban art form.
Say it's a fight. A really big fight. The kind of fight everybody wants to see. You can watch it at home, courtesy of pay-per-view, for no less than $50. Or you can go to a bar, where the cover charge can set you back $15, $20, or more. Or you can go to Miami Jai Alai. The struggling fronton will let you in for one measly dollar. Not only does that include a whole evening of jai alai betting action, it also covers the fight, shown on dozens of screens, with cheap beer flowing everywhere. Part with $5 and they'll let you ride the elevator upstairs to the Courtview Club. Eat a surprisingly decent prime-rib dinner if you want (the meal, with salad and dessert, costs only $11) while you watch your own private television. If Felix Trinidad is fighting, though, you'll probably want to catch the bout downstairs in the large banquet room, surrounded by hundreds of passionate Puerto Rican fans. When Tito wins, jump and scream and dance and shout with glee. If not for the fighter, then at least for the bargain.
There's not a huge demand in the theater for naked middle-age men, but don't blame actor William Metzo. As the Marquis de Sade in the magnificent Florida Stage production of Doug Wright's play Quills, Metzo gave a performance that required him to 1) stop speaking after the first act (since the Marquis is relieved of his tongue by church authorities hoping to stop him from writing erotica) and 2) strip down to his bare essentials. What Metzo displayed was a professional confidence and talent that proves he needs no costume. It's a tribute to the strength of his acting that Metzo's Sade seemed more vulnerable without his wig than without his pants. In this play about the importance of defending art against censorship, Metzo makes an indelible case for great acting.
Last fall the average playgoer had to wonder: Did we really need a revival of Finian's Rainbow? Despite a glut of Broadway revivals in New York, the Coconut Grove Playhouse certainly made a good case for the 1947 classic by Fred Saidy and E.Y. Harburg, whose familiar songs ("How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and "Old Devil Moon") are just two good reasons to revisit this story of a man, a woman, a leprechaun, and a battle against racism. Starring Austin Pendleton, the great Brian Murray, and a ferociously talented chorus, and featuring a book updated by Peter Stone, the Grove's Rainbow rose over one of the most exquisite examples of stage design you'd ever want to see. (Kudos to Loren Sherman's rainbow of pastel bed sheets, Phil Monat's effervescent lighting, and Marguerite Derricks's choreography.) It also served to remind us that there's always a place for an old-fashioned musical with a great score and a timeless anti-bigotry statement. Things are great in Glocca Morra, indeed.
It is every day, or so it seems, that a pedestrian film festival takes over a screen or two in Miami. It isn't every day that an innovative, complete, professional, lively, and good one grabs our attention. The first gay and lesbian festival last year was a surprising success. The second one, held in April, proves it has depth and stamina. The best thing about this festival is that while it has offered topnotch international fare, it also feels local. The Miami mixture of vibrant gay and Latin cultures is unique, and the festival reflects that. Experimental films, mainstream films, films that dealt with being gay in Latin America, with being gay in Miami, shorts, features, documentaries -- all got an airing in an atmosphere that felt fresh and progressive. Just as the Miami International Film Festival brought out a cultural community many thought didn't exist, so too is the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival fostering a community intent on offering a higher aesthetic to our area. Sure there was some celluloid fluff; in that sense gay crowd pleasers are no different from their straight counterparts. But there also were profound, moving, even shocking entries, the kind of stuff you might not see elsewhere again -- hey, just what a film festival is supposed to deliver. Maybe the most exciting hours this year were produced by the inspired decision to show the excellent British television show Queer As Folk in three movie-length segments. When you hear a packed house laugh, boo, cheer, cry, and applaud over witty, sexy, intelligent film, you know you've landed a seat in the right festival.
After naming third baseman Mike Lowell player of the year in their minor league system for 1997, New York Yankees muckety-mucks traded him to the Marlins before the 1999 season. The Cuban-American righty repaid the team by smacking a grand-slam home run last August 9, one of a record five grand slams he and his teammates hit in that game. Lowell, who graduated from Coral Gables High School and Florida International University, has power, speed, and style. And he has guts. He sat out two months last year with testicular cancer and won the Tony Conigliaro Award for overcoming adversity. This spring he came roaring back, batting .300 and leading the team to a better start than anyone expected.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®