It's pretty tough to argue with an outfit that feeds the HIV-positive among us. But throw in a few twists -- say, delivering groceries to those who are not ambulatory, providing foodstuffs to victims' families, and even catering home-cooked meals for those who are too sick to cook -- and you've got one dedicated charity. Indeed Food for Life Network not only nourishes, it nurtures. Through referral programs and its own nutritional services and counseling departments, the organization follows its clients to ensure they're not only fed but are proactive enough to tackle HIV before it balloons into AIDS. The group also sponsors fundraisers, events, and food drives to raise both community awareness and resources. So in the end, the thirteen-year-old Food for Life Network deserves kudos for more than cooking. It gets praise for persistence, perseverance, and very dedicated personnel.
Enter deep into this eight-acre native hardwood hammock and become a witness to the past in all its former glory, a time when banyan, pigeon plums, velvet seed, gumbo limbo, and Gulf licaria trees covered the Brickell area. The park has been undergoing restoration for several months (pesky foreign plants had threatened to wipe out the fragile native flora) and will reopen to the public this month. Here you can escape the concretized, high-stress world we've created and take respite in the world as it should be.
Since opening in October, the grassroots Grubstake has helped an estimated 150 women, many of them drug-addicted prostitutes who prowled Biscayne Boulevard for tricks, right their upturned lives. Grubstake and its companion thrift store, Good & Funky, are the brainchild of Heather Klinker, who gave up a lucrative job in promotions to launch this venture. Klinker knows whereof she speaks; she's a recovered alcoholic. But among the nonprofits that help the poor, Klinker and her colleagues are anything but impersonal paper-pushers. They help their charges navigate the maze of social service agencies, rehabs, and job placement. They'll give someone a ride to a clinic, or help a woman who is kicking her habit furnish a new apartment with donated furniture. It's the attention to detail that makes her operation stand out. Recently Klinker helped a young addict get a truck out of hock at the impound lot, and brought money to a jailed transvestite so he could buy razors to keep up appearances.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®