As the neilrogers.com Website counts down the seconds until the expiration of Uncle Neil's contract with QAM, it is time to look to the future. Neil's numerous, well-deserved vacations and seemingly even more numerous gastrointestinal ailments (insert fart noise here) have given his second banana ample opportunity to work on his own shtick. Our verdict: Whenever the Old Man steps down, Rodriguez is ready to step in. Although his delivery may be a bit too low-key, his wit, improvisational ability, and Everyman appeal make for good talk radio. He nearly always riffs on topics that strike a chord with callers: women's feet, drinking games, cops, and of course, his forays into Broward County's swingers' club scene (though, as he often points out, he hasn't actually "swung"). If no one happens to call in, that's cool. He'll just play Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead" -- all nine minutes of it -- until someone phones and begs him to stop. Also, as a thoroughly Americanized Cuban American, he's the perfect guy to bridge the cultural chasm between Miami-Dade and Broward. So if Neil is God, and George came from Cuba as a child (unconfirmed reports say dolphins may have been involved), that would make George ... well, a worthy successor at least.
Miami's municipal-bond rating is improving. Mayor Joe Carollo will serve out his term in office. An eerie calm permeates the city's tumultuous political environment. Don't thank government leaders. Thank Miami attorney Ben Kuehne. His courtroom argument was simple: A proposed charter referendum for a "strong mayor" amounted to an illegal recall of Mayor Carollo. That was all Judge Fredricka Smith and the Third District Court of Appeal needed to knock the referendum off this November's ballot. Kuehne's pro bono work allows the mayor to complete his term, and earns for his firm, Sale and Kuehne, invaluable publicity. (What? You say he did this solely on principle?) The political stability should last until Carollo's next outburst at city hall.
Every weekend, particularly on holidays, large numbers of people take to the water. The transformation of these landlubbers into weekend mariners is not always smooth. Add alcohol to the mix, and it can be downright disastrous. At no time is this more obvious than at the end of the day, when they try to move their boats from water to trailer. And at Black Point Marina, they have an audience. Most weekends, positioned on a hill overlooking the boat ramps, are picnickers and beer drinkers who have come to watch the amateurs try to make it home. So established has this pastime become that its participants have earned a nickname: dock ghouls. On a good day, the ghouls' gallery will be witness to boats crashing into the quay, cars slipping into the water, and relationships tanking in public. A weak parking brake or balding tires can turn success into tragicomedy. All too familiar is the sight of macho man, who hours earlier had tried to impress his girlfriend with his fancy boat, but who now lashes out at her in frustration over his inability to get the damn thing out of the water. Add to such scenes the presence of cops hopping from vessel to vessel checking licenses, and you'll have to agree: You cannot buy entertainment this good.
As the sun sets on the first Saturday of every month, gearheads transform this burger joint's parking lot into a sea of iron, a celebration of America's love affair with the automobile. Rebuilt Detroit muscle cars shine like new. Chromed Harley-Davidson motorcycles gurgle and roar. Modern Japanese speedsters stand inches from the pavement. Owners swarm the blacktop to spy on the competition, listen to the latest motor gossip, and boast about their gleaming chariots. The crowd spans the ages: old folks recalling their youth, youngsters beaming with pride, kids dreaming of their first day behind the wheel. If you're passionate about the horseless carriage, this place is your mecca.
First things first: There is no beach at Jensen Beach. It's not on the ocean. But it does hug the western shore of the Intracoastal Waterway (known up there as the Indian River). Caribbean Shores is a funky waterfront inn just outside of town, which is just north of Stuart, which is about 100 miles north of Miami, which basically means it's a completely different universe. And that's good news for anyone seeking relief from the pressure cooker we call home. The facilities at Caribbean Shores include a two-story, standard-issue motel; a dozen or so charming old-Florida-style bungalows; and a big house on the water divided into four suites. The informal atmosphere is enhanced by whimsical color schemes (pastels everywhere), and the views across Indian River are splendid, especially from the "Swan" suites. But don't expect fancy amenities or organized activities. The Shores isn't a resort, though you'll find a pool and a fishing pier and nice landscaping. It's just a delightful place to spend a couple of relaxing days alongside the water. You can bike across the causeway to Hutchinson Island and its alluring, wide-open beaches. Or you can wander around the old part of town and pick through a nice assortment of antique shops. For dinner drive up the road to Conchy Joe's, famed for its conch chowder and fresh seafood. Lodging is quite reasonable, particularly in the off-season, which runs from May 1 to December 1. Pretty decent Website, to boot.
After taking the University of Miami's men's basketball team to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament (the most successful season in the program's history), Hamilton had the opportunity to bolt to Georgia Tech, a school with a longer basketball tradition in a stronger basketball conference. He chose to remain as head coach of the Hurricanes basketball program he built from an afterthought into a perennial contender in the Big East. We don't mind saying this was the right decision. Here's hoping Hamilton, a stand-up guy in addition to being a great coach, sticks around until he can bring UM men's hoops to the legendary status of the school's football and baseball squads.
Can we fudge just a bit? Let's call it the "Best Couple of Miles of Miami." Loosening the definition is worthwhile, for all aspects of life in Miami are symbolically represented along this stretch of blacktop. The journey begins at Biscayne Bay in the shadow of wealth and power: the Miami Herald building, the Grand and Plaza Venetia condominium towers, the Omni complex. Across Biscayne Boulevard you plunge into Overtown, where, amid the abandoned buildings, garbage-strewn lots, and potholed streets stands the sleekly rehabilitated Ice Palace Studios, an entrepreneurial beacon for the city's vision of a new film and fashion district. Press onward beyond North Miami Avenue, where social life is an outdoor affair and beverages tend to be cloaked in paper bags. Not far beyond NW Seventh Avenue a couple of small clapboard houses stand as sentinels to a bygone era, before the interstates ripped out the heart of the neighborhood, an era when Overtown was a hustling, bustling community. Duck under SR 836 and you're transported to the sprawling complex of high-rises devoted to the healing arts, anchored by Jackson Memorial Hospital. Just past Twelfth Avenue the tall buildings address not physical ills but societal ills: the county's criminal courthouse, the main county jail, the State Attorney's Office, the public defender's headquarters. Two more blocks and the street changes once again, this time into a quaint neighborhood shaded by majestic oak trees. The cozy homes don't house families, however; they are occupied by law offices catering to the defense of accused criminals. Fourteenth Street finally hits a dead end at the west side of NW Seventeenth Avenue, along the banks of the hard-working Miami River. And there you have it on one street, just about everything that comprises life in this subtropical metropolis: wealth, poverty, demolition, renovation, depression, optimism, inequity, justice.

She may be the baddest chick, as she proclaims in her recent hit single, but this 21-year-old Miamian is part of a new breed of female rappers who rhyme as hard as any man and who aren't afraid to talk shit if you get in their face. A graduate of Northwestern High, Trina, as she's known, was working toward her real estate license when Trick Daddy asked her to sing on his 1998 hit single "Nann." Soon Trina had her own record contract. Her first CD, Da Baddest B***h, has steadily moved up the charts, which is particularly gratifying for Trina, since she wrote all but one of the songs. "The rapping is cool, 'cause I have always liked writing," she told the Herald not long ago. "The best thing about it is that I am just being myself."
Panthers general manager Bryan Murray knows how to cut a deal, as he proved last year with the acquisition of Pavel Bure. This year he executed another shrewd move by swapping Radek Dvorak for Mike Vernon. In some ways the exchange looked less than sweet. Dvorak is young, fast, and talented. Since the trade he became a star on the Rangers' best offensive line. Vernon, in contrast, is a 37-year-old goalie who had been languishing as the backup in San Jose. But as Murray calculated, Vernon has a strong upside. In Detroit he twice played in the Stanley Cup finals, once winning the playoff MVP award. After arriving in Sunrise, he capably filled in for injured starting goalie Trevor Kidd, so capably, in fact, that he effectively outshone him. Vernon is always strongest in the playoffs. And in hockey, one offensive superstar and a hot goalie can win a championship. Thanks to Murray's maneuvering, the Panthers had both Bure and Vernon. Pretty sweet indeed. Now if only Murray had found a defense...
That's right, the Shriners -- polyester blazers and funny little hats (they're called fezzes). What gathering could better symbolize South Beach's transformation from fashion/celebrity hot spot to the more mundane (and sustainable) conventioneers' destination than last August's Shriners conference? Hey, we're glad to have 'em. Who needs all those limousines, paparazzi, and purple-haired kids anyway?

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®