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?
The newly created GableStage arrived with a bang on the staid landscape of South Florida theater last season. To be precise the company started off with a muscular production of David Hare's Skylight, only to follow it up with the most compelling combination of programs and performances in the region. Ranging from the familiar (Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men) to the spanking new (Patrick Marber's Closer, in its first production outside New York), artistic director Joseph Adler's choices of material, production standards, and the crackerjack performances he gets out of his actors are consistently engaging and becoming more exciting all the time.
Say you're in Dallas and you've got a layover in Charlotte. Or make that Detroit with a layover in Chicago. Who would know the difference? Most U.S. airports are as seamlessly generic as fast-food chains and Michael Bolton concerts. But fly into Miami International Airport and whoa! -- time to check your passport. MIA contains a little of everything that makes our city unique. It's loud and boisterous. It's corrupt (recent revelations include dozens of drug-smuggling airline employees and no-bid contracts). The announcements are bilingual, often trilingual (Kreyol being our unofficial third language). You can get a café cubano as easily as the ubiquitous Au Bon Pain dreck you find at other airports. And despite our cosmopolitan airs (MIA tops the nation in international flights), we can be so gosh-darn provincial: Remember when Cigar Aficionado magazine featured a photo of Fidel Castro on the cover and county airport officials tried to ban its sale? How quaint.
There's plenty of choice horseflesh in South Florida each winter, but the most appealing thoroughbreds to pass through the region were Julie Harris and Charles Durning. The two arrived as part of the National Actors Theatre's touring production of The Gin Game, directed by Charles Nelson Reilly. This sentimental piffle of a play by D.L. Coburn won the Pulitzer for drama in 1977, but it's the actors who have aged well. They portrayed Weller (Durning) and Fonsia (Harris), two geezers abandoned by their families and dumped into a second-rate nursing home. Blending their disparate acting styles into a kind of demonic waltz (imagine a brainy spider battling cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn), Harris and Durning turned all dramatic expectations on their heads. In their hands even a piece of dramatic dross can seem like gold.
Oddly enough, in an area known as one of the winter vegetable baskets of the nation, it's slim pickings for farmers' markets in Miami-Dade County. Basically there seems to be two options: Pinecrest or Coral Gables. Located in the parking lot of Gardner's Market, the Pinecrest operation offers a feast for the taste buds and a greater selection than its Coral Gables equivalent. If you don't believe us, just compare; you can hit both in the same weekend: Pinecrest is held on Sunday, the Gables on Saturday. In addition to plentiful citrus and vegetables, a variety of orchids and plants can be found. Other vendors sell homemade oils, jams, salsas, and baked goods. Unfortunately Pinecrest, like Coral Gables, is seasonal. It only runs from January to mid-April.
Tucked away from view, this triangle of land is wedged between NW Twelfth Avenue, State Road 836, and the north bank of the Miami River. Advertised as the most exclusive subdivision for sale in Miami in 1919, its developer, 49-year-old John Seybold, insisted on deed restrictions to preserve leafy, shaded streets and houses set back on ample lots. It worked! Eighty-one years later, giant banyan trees and moss-draped live oaks shade grand old homes built in Florida vernacular and Victorian styles. The breeze coming up the river, along with the lush foliage, keep the temperatures down. Everyone seems to have a dog, which gives a lively neighborhood feel to the otherwise quiet streets. One of Miami's four historic districts, Spring Garden even boasts a park that neighbors cobbled together themselves. Located on a spit of land jutting into the river, it's appropriately called Spring Garden Point Park.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®