What's up with this boulevard through nowhere? It's sort of like taking a trip down a rural Southern road, where all you see are tarpaper shacks, junk, and mud. This stretch of pavement remains countrified, but with a touch of strip mall here and there. Maybe someone tried to develop the area and just gave up. Vacant, weed-choked lots run for blocks, broken up by fragments of fences and trailer parks, or the battered and rotted remnants of what might have been nice little settlements 30 years ago. It's pretty obvious this tract has been officially ghettoized when just about the only buildings not boarded up are a Church's Fried Chicken, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Popeye's Fried Chicken, and a roadside barbecue joint -- also a few mom-and-pop markets and a few churches. Add the used-car lots, check-cashing windows, and junkyards, and you've got yourself a genuine wasteland.
For almost a year -- and at nearly every commission meeting -- at least one member of the Miami-Dade County Commission grouses about how the whole world thinks they are a pack of corrupt nincompoops, all of whom are on the verge of being indicted. The king of whiners is Dennis Moss, who trots out his Rodney Dangerfield "I Don't Get No Respect" speech at the slightest provocation. He demands to know why the media don't give commissioners credit when they do something right. Our advice to the good commissioner: Worry less about your public image and more about the public's business, and everything will come out fine in the end.

Best Political Consultant In The Hereafter

Phil Hamersmith

Sure you could go to the movies, but two hours seems like an eternity if you're eager to make it home and (with any luck) into each other's arms. A trip to the planetarium, where exhibitions tend to run under an hour, is ideal. The shows at the planetarium are even darker than a movie theater, perfect for smooching. And the price is right; admission is just six dollars (three dollars for senior dates). Plus there is something about the celestial emphasis: love under the stars.
More than a video-game store, GameWorks is a virtual theme park in which the latest technology is offered exclusively in the service of fulfilling your kid's wildest fantasies. Not only is a youngster's nervous system zapped into a frenzy by the blinking lights, jingling bells, firing laser guns, and the sensation of being on another planet, but the payment system encourages wanton indulgence in this cornucopia of stimulation. Instead of coins game credit cards are issued. Twenty dollars buys you or your child a one-hour pleasure spree. Other payment packages also are available. Games and rides range from the quaint, dot-gobbling Ms. Pac-Man to a virtual roller coaster guaranteed to rattle your grown-up cookies. The store's VIP section, party room, restaurant, and two bars are designed to spoil any adult's inner child.

Best Reason To Stay In Miami For The Summer

Venetian Pool

(1) Cool spring water. (2) Two waterfalls. (3) None of those irritating models who pose like bags of bones over the loggias, under the porticos, on the cobblestone bridge. And no professional photographers who consider this particular locale indispensable. Summer in Miami, when the locals come out to play, is the ideal time to take advantage of this historic 1923 pool, which originally was a coral rock quarry before being transformed by architects Phineas Paist and Denman Fink, uncle of the City Beautiful's George Merrick. In the wintertime it's nearly impossible to get near the place, what with all the photo shoots and curious visitors. But when temperatures and humidity exceed those of most saunas, the Venetian Pool is a great place to hang all day. You can even procure snacks and meals from the café, which features (among healthier items) figure-threatening fare such as lasagna of the week and mozzarella sticks. And if you do indulge too much -- or perhaps you're just looking for shade -- you can always hide in the coral caves.
Be they from purple mountains, fruited plains, or anywhere else, just about all your visitors will appreciate the shining turquoise sea visible from this southern point of Key Biscayne. The only edifice obstructing the splendid ocean view is the restored Cape Florida lighthouse, erected in 1825 by some of our first out-of-towners, including a builder from Boston. It was burned down by some churlish locals from the Seminole tribe in 1836 and rebuilt ten years later. When your guests tire of the tower and beach facilities (which include picnic areas with pavilions and barbecue grills), take them along the sea wall path for a gander at old Stiltsville, which dates back to the late Thirties. The seven aquatic getaway cabins hovering above the Biscayne Channel have withstood Hurricane Andrew and blowhards at Biscayne National Park, who are pushing for removal of the stilt houses because they lie inside the park's boundary. Turning your gaze inland, you might have the fortune of showing your nonaccidental tourists a crocodile that resides in the restored tidal marsh, along with various bird species. As you inhale the sea breeze, you also can breathe a sigh of relief while telling your friends of the battle, led by former Miami News editor Bill Baggs in 1966, that prevented Cape Florida from becoming a vast burg of condominiums.
Is your home office lacking some gadgets? Maybe your computer blew a chip and Web withdrawal is taking its toll? Perhaps you've never had a computer and want to see what all the fuss is about? Internet access is not only available at Kafka's, it's cool. Long a ramshackle used bookstore and coffee bar with a European beatnik feel, the place has added about twenty Pentium II and III Hewlett-Packard computers. Amid the books and magazines are a color laser printer, scanners, equipment to duplicate CDs, and even the stuff you need to video-conference. Translation programs for French, German, Spanish, English, and Italian also are available. Open from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., this is a low-budget nerd's dream. The first hour of surfing costs nine dollars, and then the price drops on a sliding scale. You have to pay but a buck to log on for the minimum. To maximize your typing speed, you might want to get jacked on some strong espresso before beginning. If it's all too 21st century for you, read a book.
This Overtown theater mirrored its dilapidated surroundings when the Black Archives History and Research Foundation took possession in 1988. The roof bore a massive hole. A fire caused extensive damage to the interior. Birds claimed the abandoned rafters. Thanks to $1.5 million in grants and a ton of elbow grease, the 400-seat venue, built in 1913, celebrated its grand reopening this past March. Roof repairs keep the elements out and fresh paint adds a sparkling touch. A large mural on the south exterior wall depicts 27 black leaders. Inside, metal seats and clear sightlines invite patrons to relax in air-conditioned comfort. It's an invitingly intimate space. You can almost imagine what it must have been like when, in its heyday, the Lyric anchored an entertainment district frequented by legends such as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and many others. "Progress" in the form of I-95 and I-395 destroyed the neighborhood and threw it into poverty. The Lyric's restoration is a source of pride in black Miami and should serve as inspiration for Overtown's long-overdue revival.

Best Politician Convicted In The Past Twelve Months

Alberto Gutman

The state senator pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to defraud Medicare and was removed from office by the governor. Gutman's scheme cost taxpayers nearly two million dollars between 1990 and 1992, according to prosecutors, who alleged that he held a secret interest in a pair of home-health-care companies that ripped off Medicare by submitting false bills for phony patients. Gutman's guilty plea, which came several weeks into his trial, capped one of the sleaziest political careers in Miami-Dade County history. Now, that's saying something.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®