Keep in mind that this behemoth contains more than 502,000 square feet of retail space. Then consider the multitude of twists and turns it takes to find your way from one location to another -- say, from the parking garage to the IMAX theater. (Did M.C. Escher design this place?) Finally take note of the mall anchors: NikeTown, GameWorks, the Virgin Records megastore that frequently hosts teen icons such as Ricky Martin and Britney Spears. Add it all together and it's practically impossible not to lose, um, we mean ditch, the kids for a few hours, if not permanently. Throw in some funds, maybe a roll of quarters, or hell, just relinquish the credit card and send those ever-growing feet to NikeTown, and you've bought yourself a free afternoon. What you do with it is up to you. But we wouldn't recommend dining at Sweet Donna's or Wilderness Grill, two eateries at which it's pretty darn difficult not to run into the very kids you just jettisoned.
The lanky swingman has been a Heater his entire professional career, mostly lingering at the end of the bench but hanging around because of his defense, rebounding, occasional three-pointers, and perpetual hustle. To make room for some younger players, Pat Riley cut Askins before this season. Instead of continuing to ply his trade in a lower-echelon league, Askins decided simply to chill out in Miami. Why? Because he has a guaranteed 1.75 million clams coming in from the Heat this year, that's why. The New York Knicks offered him a ten-day contract at one point, but he turned it down. Who can blame him? Would you rather chase Latrell Sprewell for a week in practice or take lunch at Soyka with Johnny Dread -- and still get paid? Yeah, thought so.
Forget all your nightmares about big toothy beasts that threaten pets and small children from back-yard canals. Alligators can actually be quite cuddly -- at least newly hatched babies are. Don't believe it? Find out for yourself at this alligator farm and airboat attraction, which has been breeding alligators since they were an endangered species. There was a time when owner John Hudson released the reptiles into the swamp when they were big enough to take care of themselves (say, three feet or so). Now that they've rebounded throughout Florida, alligators are bred here to be turned into tasty fried nuggets and expensive shoes, not to mention a tourist destination. Despite the commercial aspects of the place, it's still fascinating to tour the breeding ponds, filled with fourteen-footers, and visit the hatcheries and grow-out pens. The latter are where you'll find the wee ones, which have teeny teeth and are cute enough to briefly be considered as pets. Tamp down that urge, but do take the opportunity to plant one on the little smiley face, the only time you're likely to encounter a gator when it's safe to do so.
In a year when a slew of noteworthy writers, including MacArthur Foundation Fellow Campbell McGrath, Carl Hiaasen, Les Standiford, Vicki Hendricks, and Marjorie Klein published books, this selection was no small task. A customer review on Amazon.com calls veteran reporter T.M. Shine "an undiscovered master." And Bill Moyers described Shine's nonfiction narrative of his father's sudden illness and demise a "marvelous, moving, and memorable account of what is hard to explain and impossible to escape." Beyond compelling subject matter, it is deft storytelling with endearing lines like, "We both suffer from what I call Dick Van Patten disease, the most profound characteristics being a fat face and skinny legs," that draws readers into Shine's first book, which was featured on Public Radio International's This American Life this past January. It may seem irreverent to describe a book about a parent's death as entertaining, but as Shine notes in the epigraph (a quote from La Rouchefoucald): "One can no more look steadily at death than at the sun." Thus everything surrounding the pink elephant in the hospital room becomes a lightning rod for Shine's sidesplitting ("He looks like Neil Young going to an early-bird dinner....") and truthful ("A doctor's minute is the antithesis of a New York minute") observations about losing someone you love.
As you roll down the highway in your car, the radio blasts the last few notes of the Commodores' sappy hit "Three Times a Lady." Suddenly your speakers begin to rattle. You turn down the volume, fiddle with the bass, adjust the treble. Nothing works. That hum is still there. Not to worry: Your stereo is fine. It's just broadcasting the basso profundo voice of trusty disc jockey Freddy Cruz. Host of the station's nighttime love-song serenade The Quiet Storm, Cruz has been unleashing his sultry Spanish accent over the Hot 105 airwaves for the past fifteen years. Back in 1985 the show was heard 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on weekdays. A loyal listening public has made the station number two in the market for the 25-to-54 age category, and now the people get five stormy hours of music per night during the week (8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) and a special old-school edition on Sunday (8:00 to 11:00 p.m.). After a hard evening on the air, what's a radio personality to do? Why get a day job, of course! For a while Cruz's inimitable pipes could be heard in two languages. After a few years on Spanish-radio WCMQ-FM (92.3), he became the production director for the Spanish Broadcasting System, a local chain of FM radio stations. When does he sleep? He claims to get five hours per night. "People hear me on the radio so relaxed but I'm really hyper," he notes. "I like to stay busy. I like to work." Not that he has to do much of that when guiding his listeners through the storm. In 1985 he spun records on turntables, then moved on to using CDs and tapes. Now thanks to computers, music is brought forth at the touch of a button. Fine by Cruz, who gets more time to take on-air dedications, growl song titles, and chat with the folks at home. "I love it," says the deep-voiced DJ about his long-time job. "The listeners are so loyal. I talk to people who started listening fifteen years ago and now they have kids; some even have grandchildren. I feel like I'm in their living room. I'm part of their family."
South Florida sports icon Dan Marino retires. It's a no-brainer who we want to see cover the biggest sports story in years. Jimmy Cefalo is not just another sportscaster; he's also a former Dolphin himself. He even roomed with Marino while a receiver for the team. When he retired in 1985, he made an easy transition to broadcasting. In 1988 he won an Emmy for his coverage of the Olympics in Seoul. He joined Channel 10 nearly eight years ago as the host of Sports Monday. Now as sports director and anchor, Cefalo's smooth delivery and wealth of experience have proven a boon to South Florida sports fans. Just as expected Cefalo brought the proper poignancy to Marino's departure without letting the team's management off the hook for sloppy handling of the transition.
The Miami area once had several renegade stations that eschewed advertising, including The Womb (107.1 FM) and SupaRadio (104.7 FM). But a federal assault on unlicensed broadcasters squelched them and many other pirates in 1998. In the secretive underworld of pirate radio, where stations are here today and shut down by the Federal Communications Commission tomorrow, it's hard to discern just what is going on. But our antenna detects a trend, albeit nascent, toward purist piracy. We especially like the nighttime spinning on 101.9 FM, because the DJs on this frequency seem to be more interested in airing their beloved Haitian compas than getting people to show up at someone's dance party for ten bucks a head. Okay, once in a while the Kreyol-speaking announcers might plug an event or store, but they do so far less than our allegedly commercial-free public radio station, WLRN-FM (91.3), which runs full-fledged ads disguised as corporate underwriting. We've also witnessed such low-key pirates on 94.5 FM, where they let the hip-hop speak for itself without interruption, sometimes for hours at a time. It is our humble hope that other unlicensed broadcasters will stop squandering the chance to create a true alternative to the oppressive and unimpressive state of commercial radio in South Florida.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®