Pavel Bure is amazing. Good god, the Russian Rocket is the best player in the world right now, the most exciting and prolific scorer in the game, the All-Star game MVP, a strong candidate for league MVP, a reason all by himself to drive to godforsaken Sunrise to watch the Panthers play. And as he flies around the rink, firing stunning slap shots into the net, it's impossible not to recall that the Panthers acquired him in exchange for ... Ed Jovanovski. Swapping a problematic defenseman for Bure is the best trade the Panthers will ever make. It's the best trade any front office in any sport could possibly make. As a front-office maneuver, the trade rivals any of the athletic miracles Bure pulls off on the ice.
WQBA is no longer La Cubanísima. If nothing else this is a clear indication that someone has finally figured out that the majority of Miami's Spanish-speaking citizens is not obsessed with Fidel Castro. The formatting changes that began in late 1997 -- after the giant Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation (HBC) acquired WQBA and three other Miami stations -- have by now resulted in a much more pleasant listening experience. Yes, it's still a hard-line exile station at heart, and Ninoska Perez Castellon, la cubanaza herself, is still holding forth on Ninoska a la Una, comparing Fidel to Hitler (she's good enough to get away with it). But at least you don't have to hear this all day long, as you do on that bastion of bombast, Radio Mambí, which HBC bought along with WQBA but left untouched. Veteran Cuban-American broadcasters Agustin Acosta and Bernadette Pardo remain popular news-talk hosts on WQBA, but other personalities who never even mention Castro have been well received. For example the "Plant Doctor," Jesus Ramos, provides excellent gardening advice. The sports coverage is good, too, including but not limited to live broadcasts of Marlins and Dolphins games.
Recorded compas music from St. Andre's Record Store across the street fills this shop in the heart of Little Haiti, often accompanied by the live drumming of percussion students or the rehearsals of the dance company Sosyete Koukouy out back. Paintings by Haitian artists and larger-than-life photos of folkloric dancers and musicians cover the walls, while frequent readings and panel discussions at the cultural center upstairs stimulate the intellect. With more than 3000 titles in French, Kreyol, and English, Libreri Mapou has been the center of Haitian literary culture in Miami since 1986. For those looking to learn any of the above languages, Mapou has a large section dedicated to dictionaries and grammar books. Newspapers from Port-au-Prince, Paris, Miami, and New York City keep readers up to date on the latest news from the island and across the Haitian diaspora. Sociological studies and historical tomes take the long view on Haiti's often turbulent society. More fanciful readers might turn to the book of folk tales retold in Kreyol by bookstore owner Jan Mapou, or leaf through one of the many naughty novels on the front table by Haitian-Canadian Dany Laferriere, author of How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired. No wonder so many of the most creative minds in Miami make Libreri Mapou a frequent stop.
Nilo Cruz's haunting A Bicycle Country, a play about three Cuban balseros, arrived at the Florida Stage just a few weeks after boat boy Elian Gonzalez was rescued off the Fort Lauderdale coast. Here's betting it will be remembered long after young Elian grows up. Set in Cuba and in the waters between Havana and Miami, the play stakes a claim in the dramatic territory of Samuel Beckett, with its evocative language, startling visual imagery, and existential concerns. Cruz's portrayal of the trio that escapes from Cuba is both literal and metaphorical. Less a political play than a statement about yearning, A Bicycle Country is capable of transcending the narrow politics of 1999 and 2000 and becoming a work that can shed light on any group of desperate people. Which is exactly what great art is supposed to do.
Actress Lisa Morgan is a great supporting player in the sense that, no matter how she's cast, she magnificently supports the interests of theatergoers, directors, fellow actors, and playwrights. Last season she appeared most notably in two shows. As the twittery, resolute mother of the flapper Sally Bowles in New Theatre's I Am a Camera, Morgan's onstage time clocked in at less than fifteen minutes. Nonetheless from her first entrance, she carried a universe of subtext with her. On a larger scale, Morgan's ensemble role in One Flea Spare, also at New Theatre, demonstrated her ability to hoist an entire play, even one as prickly, poetic, impressionistic, and director-driven as this Obie winner. Courageous and inventive, she consistently reaches into dangerous territory with her acting, leaving safer routes for less-daring performers. And that's always a thrill to watch.
Monfort's passion for baseball has its roots in Cuba, his homeland. As a ten-year-old kid, he began collecting mementos from his favorite teams and players. Later he embraced America's baseball heroes as well. Today he can boast of a private collection he accurately refers to as his "mini-Cooperstown." Hanging on the walls of his Westchester home are autographed photos of each and every baseball hall-of-famer. Mounted on plaques are images of America's best players and obscure Cuban peloteros from the island's professional leagues of the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties, each emblazoned with the player's name, the seasons he played, and his achievements -- from the incomparable Sandy Koufax to that master of versatility Martin Dihigo, the only Cuban inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. Monfort's collection is a multiethnic treasure trove of rarities, some of which still are boxed up in his closet. He owns a 1932 photo of a young Joe DiMaggio eating spaghetti at the kitchen table, and the wedding portrait of famed Cuban baseball manager Adolfo Luque. In Miami baseball circles, the 70-year-old Monfort is considered both wise man and historian. He says he's just a fan. Although he does lend items to special exhibitions, Monfort's collection remains private, for the time being. Maybe someday we'll have a Cooperstown by the bay.
In little more than a year, Angela Rae has helped turned WFOR from a ratings joke into a serious contender. In the last ratings period, Channel 4 was the number-one station at 11:00 p.m., an advance largely owing to Rae's presence at the anchor desk. She is bright (packing a law degree from the University of Virginia), articulate (a rarity among anchors in these parts), and quick-witted (even rarer). When Rae joined the station in 1995, it was immediately apparent she was someone who could make an impact. The only thing standing in her way were the pinheads who manage Channel 4. They refused to promote her. Only after she made it clear she was ready to leave the station did they move her into the anchor slot with Steve Wolford, a pleasant enough fellow but hardly a reason to stay up late. Rae, on the other hand, is more than enough reason to lose a little sleep.
Of all the blame for the sham of a disaster of a debacle in Jacksonville that ended this mind-numbingly disappointing Dolphins season, none can be laid at the golden right foot of the team's kicker. In fact if it hadn't been for good ol' No. 10, the Fins wouldn't have won enough games to earn the right to drive up to Jacksonville and get punked. Remember that Chargers game where a crappy San Diego squad kept the Dolphins offense out of the end zone all afternoon, but couldn't stop Mare from dropping 4 field goals on them? Remember how he set an NFL record during the regular season with 39 field goals? Mare is a restricted free agent. Let's hope Dave Wannstedt keeps him around as an insurance policy during Year One of the Fiedler/Huard Era. Three points are better than none, after all.
Alonzo Mourning is so good it's dangerously easy to take him for granted. The All-Star center was the NBA's defensive player of the year in 1999. He has diversified his offensive game, making his midrange jumper more reliable while improving his post-up skills. He rebounds well. He runs the floor. His shot blocking remains incredible. And though he's a little undersize to play center, he can use his foot speed to drive on bigger, slower guys while his strength allows him to hang with them on defense. He's really, really good. Unfortunately he can't win a championship all by himself. But then, neither could Michael Jordan.
You know, the funny thing about Don Noe is that you can't really tell by looking at him how bad the weather is. The screen behind him could be showing a sunny summer day with light chop on the bay, or a huge killer hurricane that might hit us (Floyd), or a not-so-big hurricane that will hit us (Irene), and Channel 10's first-string weatherman will still tell you exactly what you need to know without embellishment or hand-wringing. Last hurricane season he literally was calm before and during the storm, especially in the category 5 hysteria surrounding Hurricane Floyd. And he isn't doing a smarmy empathy act like some weatherdudes we know. A veteran of 21 years in South Florida and a certified meteorologist, he's always the consummate pro: Noe glitz, Noe nonsense, Noe contest.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®