Pavel Bure is amazing. Good god, the Russian Rocket is the best player in the world right now, the most exciting and prolific scorer in the game, the All-Star game MVP, a strong candidate for league MVP, a reason all by himself to drive to godforsaken Sunrise to watch the Panthers play. And as he flies around the rink, firing stunning slap shots into the net, it's impossible not to recall that the Panthers acquired him in exchange for ... Ed Jovanovski. Swapping a problematic defenseman for Bure is the best trade the Panthers will ever make. It's the best trade any front office in any sport could possibly make. As a front-office maneuver, the trade rivals any of the athletic miracles Bure pulls off on the ice.
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.
WQBA is no longer La Cubanísima. If nothing else this is a clear indication that someone has finally figured out that the majority of Miami's Spanish-speaking citizens is not obsessed with Fidel Castro. The formatting changes that began in late 1997 -- after the giant Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation (HBC) acquired WQBA and three other Miami stations -- have by now resulted in a much more pleasant listening experience. Yes, it's still a hard-line exile station at heart, and Ninoska Perez Castellon, la cubanaza herself, is still holding forth on Ninoska a la Una, comparing Fidel to Hitler (she's good enough to get away with it). But at least you don't have to hear this all day long, as you do on that bastion of bombast, Radio Mambí, which HBC bought along with WQBA but left untouched. Veteran Cuban-American broadcasters Agustin Acosta and Bernadette Pardo remain popular news-talk hosts on WQBA, but other personalities who never even mention Castro have been well received. For example the "Plant Doctor," Jesus Ramos, provides excellent gardening advice. The sports coverage is good, too, including but not limited to live broadcasts of Marlins and Dolphins games.
Recorded compas music from St. Andre's Record Store across the street fills this shop in the heart of Little Haiti, often accompanied by the live drumming of percussion students or the rehearsals of the dance company Sosyete Koukouy out back. Paintings by Haitian artists and larger-than-life photos of folkloric dancers and musicians cover the walls, while frequent readings and panel discussions at the cultural center upstairs stimulate the intellect. With more than 3000 titles in French, Kreyol, and English, Libreri Mapou has been the center of Haitian literary culture in Miami since 1986. For those looking to learn any of the above languages, Mapou has a large section dedicated to dictionaries and grammar books. Newspapers from Port-au-Prince, Paris, Miami, and New York City keep readers up to date on the latest news from the island and across the Haitian diaspora. Sociological studies and historical tomes take the long view on Haiti's often turbulent society. More fanciful readers might turn to the book of folk tales retold in Kreyol by bookstore owner Jan Mapou, or leaf through one of the many naughty novels on the front table by Haitian-Canadian Dany Laferriere, author of How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired. No wonder so many of the most creative minds in Miami make Libreri Mapou a frequent stop.
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.
Nilo Cruz's haunting A Bicycle Country, a play about three Cuban balseros, arrived at the Florida Stage just a few weeks after boat boy Elian Gonzalez was rescued off the Fort Lauderdale coast. Here's betting it will be remembered long after young Elian grows up. Set in Cuba and in the waters between Havana and Miami, the play stakes a claim in the dramatic territory of Samuel Beckett, with its evocative language, startling visual imagery, and existential concerns. Cruz's portrayal of the trio that escapes from Cuba is both literal and metaphorical. Less a political play than a statement about yearning, A Bicycle Country is capable of transcending the narrow politics of 1999 and 2000 and becoming a work that can shed light on any group of desperate people. Which is exactly what great art is supposed to do.
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.
Actress Lisa Morgan is a great supporting player in the sense that, no matter how she's cast, she magnificently supports the interests of theatergoers, directors, fellow actors, and playwrights. Last season she appeared most notably in two shows. As the twittery, resolute mother of the flapper Sally Bowles in New Theatre's I Am a Camera, Morgan's onstage time clocked in at less than fifteen minutes. Nonetheless from her first entrance, she carried a universe of subtext with her. On a larger scale, Morgan's ensemble role in One Flea Spare, also at New Theatre, demonstrated her ability to hoist an entire play, even one as prickly, poetic, impressionistic, and director-driven as this Obie winner. Courageous and inventive, she consistently reaches into dangerous territory with her acting, leaving safer routes for less-daring performers. And that's always a thrill to watch.
Monfort's passion for baseball has its roots in Cuba, his homeland. As a ten-year-old kid, he began collecting mementos from his favorite teams and players. Later he embraced America's baseball heroes as well. Today he can boast of a private collection he accurately refers to as his "mini-Cooperstown." Hanging on the walls of his Westchester home are autographed photos of each and every baseball hall-of-famer. Mounted on plaques are images of America's best players and obscure Cuban peloteros from the island's professional leagues of the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties, each emblazoned with the player's name, the seasons he played, and his achievements -- from the incomparable Sandy Koufax to that master of versatility Martin Dihigo, the only Cuban inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. Monfort's collection is a multiethnic treasure trove of rarities, some of which still are boxed up in his closet. He owns a 1932 photo of a young Joe DiMaggio eating spaghetti at the kitchen table, and the wedding portrait of famed Cuban baseball manager Adolfo Luque. In Miami baseball circles, the 70-year-old Monfort is considered both wise man and historian. He says he's just a fan. Although he does lend items to special exhibitions, Monfort's collection remains private, for the time being. Maybe someday we'll have a Cooperstown by the bay.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®