Beatty stood up to the craven Miami city commissioners and mayor who couldn't stand up to their own constituents. And he didn't shrink from publicly admonishing them -- with eloquent directness -- for playing politics with the city's dire financial crisis. That was back in mid-1999, when Beatty was chairman of the governor's financial oversight board, the appointed body charged with guiding Miami back from its near-bankruptcy in 1996. Beatty, a corporate lawyer and former partner in the giant Holland and Knight firm, has since resigned from the oversight board and assumed the role of general counsel for the Miami Herald. He has caught some flak for taking the job in spite of his close association with numerous influential community organizations and powers that be. (He was criticized in 1998 when BellSouth, for whom he was general counsel, contributed to the re-election campaign of state Sen. Al Gutman after Gutman's indictment on Medicare fraud, witness tampering, and money laundering charges). Yet nothing can erase Beatty's history of constructive and occasionally heroic civic leadership. He has served on the boards of United Way, the Orange Bowl Committee, Leadership Florida, SunTrust Bank, Miami-Dade Community College Foundation, the Beacon Council, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and many more. Miami Business magazine, in naming him its 1999 "Business Leader of the Year," called Beatty "the conscience of our town."
Highway coin collectors rarely inspire envy. Imagine handing out change to an endless parade of cars, vans, and tractor trailers, touching thousands of dirty hands each day while sucking down a full shift of lung-blackening exhaust fumes. No envy, that is, until now. Since this past summer, toll takers along Florida's Turnpike and other toll roads have been sporting spiffy new Hawaiian shirts custom designed with flamingos, palm trees, alligators, and other indigenous wildlife. This is their actual uniform, a design wonderful enough to win national awards, a shirt so cool that people -- people who are not toll collectors -- are offering good money to buy one. "We get lots of requests," says Joyce Douglas, a turnpike executive in Tallahassee. "It's a unique shirt but we can't sell them. They are strictly uniforms."
There is word of a poetry renaissance in America (well, at least sales of poetry books are up). One of the progenitors is right here in our Magic City, née the Great Marsh. A Chicago native who teaches creative writing at Florida International University, McGrath told New Times in 1997 his aspiration was to write in "a big expansive kind of lyrical prosy poetic voice talking about America." He continues to achieve that whimsical goal in poems wrought from objects, observations, and experiences scattered from Las Vegas to Wisconsin to Miami. In "Biscayne Boulevard," from a collection published last year titled Road Atlas, he paints a gritty, evocative word picture that is at once local and universal. "Crossing the bay: pelicans and buzzards against a Japanese/screen of rifted clouds, squalls, and riffs in grey, white, azure/Gulls like asterisks, anhinga like bullets.... At 123rd St.: survival/of the fittest franchise/Boston Chicken, Pollo Tropical/Kenny Rogers Roasters/KFC/Which must perish so that another may live?/Oceans of notions/ INS/The Pussycat Theater.... Police helicopter, sweet damselfly, can you track my happiness?/Radar gun, will you enumerate my sorrows?/Bullet, do you sting?" In Balserito, a prose poem, he captures a mysterious aura seemingly emanating from three rafts washed up on a beach: "Ragged planks and Styrofoam and chicken wire, filthy and abandoned but curiously empowered, endowed with a violent, residual energy, like shotgun casings in a field of corn stubble or the ruptured jelly of turtle eggs among mangroves, chrysalides discarded as the cost of the journey, shells of arrival, shells of departure." McGrath is the real McCoy.
You've had dinner. You held hands when you walked him/her home. You know you want to see each other again. So don't ruin it by doing something predictable. Move with eccentric genius by inviting her/him to the baths. Set in a basement grotto of the Castillo del Mar Resort, the baths are a unique way to get to know someone better. For a $20 per person cover charge, you can take advantage of four different types of steam rooms: the Russian radiant room, the Turkish steam room, the redwood sauna, and the aromatherapy steam room. In between rooms you can plunge into a frigid bath or stand under showerheads strategically placed throughout the spa to let frosty water rain down upon you. Massages and mud baths also are available for a charge. Before leaving the two of you can sit in the large saltwater hot tub, which has about 500 gallons of water continuously flowing through it. Not many things bring you as close together as a thorough soaking. The baths are open daily from noon to midnight.
Only in Miami would a swath of green amid Brickell Avenue's concrete jungle be named for a real estate entrepreneur. But credit must be given where it is due. The late developer L. Allen Morris donated a quarter of a city block to the City of Miami, which wisely (for once) preserved the eleven tall oaks and one banyan tree that shade the property. The lush canopy, combined with a cluster of park benches, makes the minipark the perfect excuse to leave the office on those gorgeous subtropical days and enjoy lunch alfresco. Walkways carve a path through the grass and landscaping. No time to pack a meal? Several restaurants are within easy walking distance, and they'll quickly toss something together. Don't like to fight lunch-hour traffic? Jump on the Metromover and disembark at the Tenth Street station across the street. Suddenly feel the urge to take off for the rest of the day? Do it. And tell the boss we authorized it.
For a time it seemed as if Matti Bower was destined to be a political bridesmaid but never a bride. She ran for the Miami Beach City Commission in 1995 and lost to Martin Shapiro. (Had she won, she would have been the first Hispanic to sit on the commission.) She ran again in 1997 but was edged out by Simon Cruz. Having lost twice, most folks would have winced at the thought of subjecting themselves to another campaign. But Bower, who was born in Havana, isn't like most people. A Miami Beach activist for nearly 30 years, her record of public service dates all the way back to her early days as the founder of the Fisher-Feinberg Elementary School PTA. And so last fall, when Shapiro launched a losing bid for the mayor's office, Bower didn't hesitate to run for his open seat. This time she won.
If purchasing and maintaining your own aircraft is a just a wee bit beyond your means, yet you hanker for an eagle's view of the world, see pilot Philip Shelnut. For a mere $65 you can gain that perspective for about ten minutes. Too little time aloft? Several other tours are available, including a 45-mile, half-hour jaunt for $149. This package affords you a high-altitude romp running the length of Miami Beach, shooting over to Virginia Key, hovering above Coconut Grove, flirting with the top of the Bank of America tower, and if you're lucky, providing you with a glimpse of the sun sharks and lemon sharks that like to cruise off Key Biscayne. Full-day sightseeing tours also are available.
Can you imagine anything cuter than hundreds of youngsters, dressed as elves, marching along Sunset Drive and Red Road? Well, truth be told, we can't either. In what has become a South Miami tradition, Santa's Parade of Elves is a glorious start to the holiday season. Heading into its seventeenth year, the parade keeps getting bigger and bigger. Last year more than 80 groups joined in, among them the University of Miami cheerleaders, numerous high school marching bands, and a host of antique-car enthusiasts. But the center of attention, as always, is the kids. This is their day, after all. Nearly 500 of them turned out last year in full elf regalia. Adorable, just adorable.
In the few short months since Brett O'Bourke debuted as the "I Love Trouble" nightlife columnist in the Miami Herald's weekly tabloid Street, he's revealed so much about himself that unsuspecting readers have been seen dropping the publication from their hands, their bodies convulsing with a severe case of the willies. O'Bourke has bragged in print that he uses his column to "get laid." In another column he told us how he nailed a reluctant, intoxicated chick who "had never done this before." He has relayed the play-by-play of his arrest for drunk driving, as well as vomiting on a friend's porch after a night of binge drinking. In yet another installment, he admitted his affection for In Living Color reruns on the FX channel. In fact he's said that staying at home on the couch watching television is preferable to going out to the clubs he's paid to cover. Week after week he blasts South Beach as being too crowded, too sexy, too expensive, too rude, too ... too ... too much trouble. "There is a cheap, street-corner feel to the whole scene -- a kind of understood exchange of goods for sex or the possibility of sex at least," he's explained. Later he condensed his angst to a command: "Enough with the attitude already!" Brett, we hear your cry. We want to help. But we ... just ... can't ... slow ... down.
Mark Londner is the iron man of the WSVN staff. You can drop him into the middle of any crisis, any breaking-news event, and be guaranteed the sort of smart and incisive reporting that often is lacking in television news. He's proved himself time and time again, from events as varied as the OJ Simpson murder trial in 1994 to the summit between Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. While others tend to babble into the microphone, Londner's style is to be clear and direct. During this year's Elian Gonzalez media feast, while others at his station routinely editorialized during their segments, Londner delivered the facts in a straightforward and unbiased manner -- the way he's been doing it for more than two decades in Miami.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®