It is every day, or so it seems, that a pedestrian film festival takes over a screen or two in Miami. It isn't every day that an innovative, complete, professional, lively, and good one grabs our attention. The first gay and lesbian festival last year was a surprising success. The second one, held in April, proves it has depth and stamina. The best thing about this festival is that while it has offered topnotch international fare, it also feels local. The Miami mixture of vibrant gay and Latin cultures is unique, and the festival reflects that. Experimental films, mainstream films, films that dealt with being gay in Latin America, with being gay in Miami, shorts, features, documentaries -- all got an airing in an atmosphere that felt fresh and progressive. Just as the Miami International Film Festival brought out a cultural community many thought didn't exist, so too is the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival fostering a community intent on offering a higher aesthetic to our area. Sure there was some celluloid fluff; in that sense gay crowd pleasers are no different from their straight counterparts. But there also were profound, moving, even shocking entries, the kind of stuff you might not see elsewhere again -- hey, just what a film festival is supposed to deliver. Maybe the most exciting hours this year were produced by the inspired decision to show the excellent British television show Queer As Folk in three movie-length segments. When you hear a packed house laugh, boo, cheer, cry, and applaud over witty, sexy, intelligent film, you know you've landed a seat in the right festival.
The Tides South Beach
It's getting harder and harder to recommend anything on Ocean Drive, especially a hotel. For a night of partying, the crowds and the noise can still be seductive as part of the SoBe experience. But for postparty hours, when quality lounging quarters are required, that cacophonous street life should be a distant and silent memory. Which is why the Tides is an amazing oasis. For some nearly inexplicable reason, those few steps that lead up and off Ocean Drive toward this calm and cool hotel continue to transport you to another world. As the name suggests, the Tides lulls you into the lap of luxury. Unlike other fabulous hotels, such as the Delano and the Biltmore, crowds don't throng the lobby and pool area. In fact the pool is on the mezzanine, not something you often see around here. It's secluded and elegant, like everything else at the Tides. But let's get straight to the point: Whether you're a local or a visitor, if you're going to throw down some bucks (and here you most definitely will, as rates range from $300 to $2000), a room with a view is imperative. At the Tides every room has an ocean view, a simply fabulous view. The Art Deco hotel, built in 1936, is one of the tallest buildings in the area, so there's nothing to obstruct your sightlines. The whole place, from the lobby to the restaurants to the huge rooms (45 of them), is draped from head to toe in a egg-shell color. The sandy shade conveys the feeling, especially while you're in a fluffy beige robe sitting in your room staring out at the blue expanse of the Atlantic, of being safely ensconced under a huge soundproof cabana on the beach, 1000 miles from the cares and the crowds of the world.
Ungurait is the spokesman for one of the most overworked and politically perilous government offices anywhere. Yet he remains helpful and straightforward in the face of even the most taxing demands. No question is too small, no fact too obscure. Ungurait will research and promptly report back. The infrequent times he can't dig up all the details or answer you immediately, he'll apologize and get on with the job. That inspires confidence, which is almost an oxymoron when applied to the world of flacking.
After naming third baseman Mike Lowell player of the year in their minor league system for 1997, New York Yankees muckety-mucks traded him to the Marlins before the 1999 season. The Cuban-American righty repaid the team by smacking a grand-slam home run last August 9, one of a record five grand slams he and his teammates hit in that game. Lowell, who graduated from Coral Gables High School and Florida International University, has power, speed, and style. And he has guts. He sat out two months last year with testicular cancer and won the Tony Conigliaro Award for overcoming adversity. This spring he came roaring back, batting .300 and leading the team to a better start than anyone expected.
"Have Character, Will Travel." So reads the business card of Daniel Ricker, self-appointed "citizen advocate," who spent the past year attending county commission meetings, city commission meetings, school board meetings, and Public Health Trust meetings, all in an effort to better understand how government operates. He even sat through the public-corruption trial of former county Commissioner James Burke so he could hear firsthand how deals are made at the county level. Why did he do it? Ricker, who made his fortune managing international companies that sell coronary pacemakers, says he became so disgusted with the sleaze and corruption of politics in South Florida that, rather than withdraw into apathy, he became hyperactive in the community. He took a year off work and dedicated himself to his task. A man of limitless patience (a necessary attribute in order to sit through some of those meetings), he says he never became bored and always found the working of government fascinating and important. Simply knowing that an informed member of the public was attending those meetings, watching every move they made, undoubtedly had a sobering effect on Miami's less-than-trustworthy politicians and bureaucrats.
What quarterback Ken Dorsey says about senior wide receiver Santana Moss: "Santana is one of the greatest athletes around, and as a quarterback, it's nice to know he's out there. He can jump, run, catch, and he ignites the team. If you throw anywhere near him, he'll go up and do anything he can to come down with the ball. It takes a great play by the guy guarding him to stop him." What a guy guarding him says about Santana Moss: "Moss is real good," admits Syracuse cornerback Will Allen. "He has agility and speed. The stuff he does isn't necessarily hard, but he's so fast that you have to honor his deep cuts. I played all right against him, but you have to be at the top of your game to stop him completely." Moss is the defending Big East champion in the 60-meter dash. He can leap 42 inches into the sky. He's a certain first-round draft pick. By deciding to come back for his senior season, he earns a legitimate shot at the Heisman Trophy. "Without Santana Moss on this team, it would be a big loss," Dorsey says. "He is a really gifted and special athlete."
It's far away from the Shangri-la of South Beach, but earlier this year Lazaro Gonzalez's home in the gritty heart of Miami became the best photo opportunity since Gianni Versace gave his life for the benefit of local tour-bus operators. When young Cuban rafter Elian Gonzalez moved into the modest abode rented by his Uncle Lazaro, the house became the Miami destination. Until police blocked the street to all but residents, cars loaded with vérité-seeking tourists slowly would parade past at night, as if the house featured an elaborate Christmas-light display. For weeks, all day long, leathery old men and matronly women maintained their vigil behind the barricades (and occasionally through the barricades), smoking cigars and chatting while hoping for a glimpse of the boy. Vendors did brisk business selling Cuban flags and other memorabilia. Hordes of media drones beamed images of the scene around the globe. Given that kind of exposure, local tour guides are all smiles: This place will be a cash cow for months, maybe years to come.

Best Boxing Figure To Die In The Past Twelve Months

Beau Jack

Beau Jack, born Sidney Walker in Augusta, Georgia, was one of the most exciting fighters in the world during the Forties, a time many consider boxing's golden age. He fought the best part of his 112 professional matches before sellout crowds in Madison Square Garden, winning and losing the lightweight title twice (record: 83-24-5). Jack lived his last 44 years in Miami, where he operated a shoeshine stand in the Fontainebleau Hotel and later trained fighters and managed Miami Beach's famed Fifth Street Gym. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991, and this past December an Associated Press panel voted him one of the top ten lightweights of the century. In his last years, afflicted with Parkinson's disease, Jack was toasted at gala banquets and sweet-science affairs around the nation, where he traveled with the help of his long-time friend, Miami boxing historian Hank Kaplan. Jack died at age 79 on February 9, 2000, in a Miami nursing home. "Goodbye, Beau Jack," New York Daily News sportswriter Bill Gallo wistfully concluded in a column eulogizing the fierce-punching brawler. "They don't hardly make fighters like you anymore."
El Chamba has been around since 1989. Except for one minor detail (it finally has an operating permit), not much has changed at this ramshackle soap-and-suds center for cars. El Chamba's native Nicaraguan owners take pride in the fact that the only machine used on your ride is a heavy-duty vacuum for the carpets. "Machines can't think," notes Leon Mateo Sanz, one of the owners. "God forbid they should damage the car." Here, at this odd Flagler Street intersection, where several roads converge to become one-way streets, manual labor is the only way to go. A live human attends to every nook and cranny of your car. A variety of perfumes add the final touch. For a truly Miami experience, we recommend "ocean mist." Fragrance included, a complete job costs ten bucks.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®