Who wants to go to a smoky bar on a first date? Or a cacophonous dance club where you can't talk to each other? And who wants to risk half-a-week's pay at an expensive restaurant with someone you don't really know yet? Tell her to go fly a kite. With you. Drive to the Haulover Beach and use the huge kites to guide you into the park area on the west side of Collins. Find the concession trailer displaying an airborne apparatus. That's Skyward Kites. Buy yourself a kite; they start at four bucks. Then proceed to the park's field, or cross Collins to the beach. Have some fun. Run around. Relax. Talk. By the end of the day you'll know a lot more about each other than you would after a bleary night out. If it's a bust, you still have the kite, and you had some fun flying it. If there's chemistry, invite her out for dinner. Skyward Kites is open daily from 9:00 a.m. until sunset.
"You know, I am disgusted to sit in a democratic country and to have to put up with this kind of sickening anarchy, and this is what this is. This is not about good government. This is not about having a better Miami. This is about just a small group that couldn't get their way in stealing what they hadn't stolen from Miami, and they want a second crack of the apple. Maybe the next election they're planning that for us. Maybe the absentee votes will be coming out of the jails. At least a few of them have gone over there already.... Ladies and gentlemen, this is a farce that has gone on too long. But let's not play around any more. If what the majority of my colleagues want to do is turn this city upside down, let's not play around anymore. If this is what you all want to do, do it now. But let's not play around anymore.... I'm fed up with the corruption that I see around us, corruption that, frankly, starts with some right up here. Because when you steal from this city, how in the heck, how in the heck can you expect an official like this to do right in all the other important things that we have to do with this city? And that's the problem we have. Frankly we have some people up here that are not honorable. They are dishonorable. Individuals that I am ashamed to serve with because I've never seen anything like this before. So if this is what you all want to do, if the majority of you want to turn this city upside down, then go ahead. Let's not waste any more time. Do it today."
Miguel Hernandez is on a holy mission. It may not be on the scale of a religious crusade, but it compels him nonetheless. "I happen to believe I work for God," says the 35-year-old car washer. "One of the things I do for a Him is not overcharge. Everybody else is charging $40 for something they know in their heart of hearts shouldn't be more than $20." Hernandez, who started Ricky's Detailing in 1999, charges $18.50 to pamper your car. That's a great price for a hand wash and wax. And it's a phenomenal price for wash, wax, and an interior cleaning with vacuum and solvents. This isn't an amateur job, either. Hernandez has a high-tech trailer attached to his van that carries not only supplies but a generator and a 150-gallon water tank with pump. He uses a high-pressure hose to wash and a hand-held power buffer to wax. He named his business Ricky's, he says, in honor of his wife's nephew, who was murdered in 1998. "Coming back from the funeral, it was the one thing she asked me," he recalls. His wife died of a heart attack a few months later.
For a buck you can take Old Card Sound Road and its bridge home from the Keys and grab a bird's-eye view of South Florida that includes a wide, watery sky rich enough to satisfy spoiled Texans, as well as a shimmering horizon sprinkled with mangrove islands and funky fishermen. Watch out for the crotchety tollbooth operators who have the wary look of people who just might be descended from the pirates who used to lurk in the Keys. Fifty yards down the two-lane blacktop, you can come back to Earth at Alabama Jack's, the kind of rural bar that saves all its best parking spots for motorcyclists, many of them lawyers and cops. Order a Corona and some good conch fritters. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, relax and enjoy the only live country band that plays regularly in Monroe County, the Card Sound Machine. Then poke on home, crossing the Glades, enjoying a slow take on this area where the big fishing boats are mostly less than twenty feet and all the houseboats need a coat of paint. There's live blue crab for sale along the road. And if you stop to gawk at fish, be careful not to step on the gators.
After leading the fight to have the Miami-Dade County Commission pass a gay-rights ordinance, Jorge Mursuli easily could have retreated from the political stage, content with a single momentous victory. Instead Mursuli, chairman of SAVE Dade, has capitalized on that triumph, slowly building one of the more influential political organizations to arise in South Florida in years. He has apportioned his group's limited resources wisely, backing Johnny Winton in last year's Miami City Commission race, helping him defeat stone-age incumbent J.L Plummer. SAVE Dade also was key in Matti Bower's victory for a seat on the Miami Beach City Commission last fall. Through fundraising and grassroots organizing, Mursuli -- along with a lot of others at SAVE Dade -- also was preparing to fight an effort to repeal the gay-rights ordinance. As it turned out, Christian conservatives failed to get the necessary signatures to place the matter on the ballot. Obviously they didn't have anyone on their side as organized and dedicated as Mursuli. Next question: When will Jorge Mursuli run for elected office?
Lightning strikes, Glades burn, schools flunk, cocaine arrives, Soyka arrives, Elian arrives, Lincoln Road gets malled, Cuban rafters get gassed, code inspectors get bribed, transit tax goes down, Calle Ocho rips up, I-95 rips up, Stiltsville survives, gay-rights law survives, Cuban spies get busted, Columba Bush gets busted, too hot, too wet, too congested, Rickymania strikes, road debris strikes, phony doctors mangle, Venetian Causeway opens, Lyric Theater reopens, Virginia Key Beach reopens, Hurricane Floyd threatens, Phil Hamersmith dies, Ted Arison dies, Los Van Van plays, ramp rats get busted, Chris Paciello gets busted, Gilda Oliveros gets busted, Irene drenches, Lunetta walks, Grigsby walks, Plummer goes out, Winton gets in, New Year's prices soar, gas prices soar, truckers strike, rain falls, crime drops, Y2K threatens, Lee Hills dies, Bill Colson dies, rafters die, Gutman goes to jail, Burke goes to jail, Noriega stays in jail, Elian does Disney World, Diane Sawyer does Elian, Miriam Alonso gets busted, Demetrio Perez gets busted, Rosa Rodriguez gets busted, boaters kill, drag racers kill, Cubans get smuggled, Roxcy Bolton gets honored, Tony Bryant dies, Don Martin dies, Elaine Gordon dies, Miami Circle lives, the Bel-Aire falls, the Royal York falls, Freedom Tower rots, tolls rise, O.J. lurks, Regalado charges it, Warshaw charges it, Fraind shoots his foot, Penelas shoots his foot, Marino leaves, Elian leaves, and the good news is that someone out there is still thinking straight: State transportation workers finally remove the expressway sunburst symbols that were supposed to help but only confused.
February 11, 1999: Adrian Dominican nun Jeanne O'Laughlin's tireless volunteerism earns her the Sand in My Shoes award from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. She is the first woman to win the honor, just as she was the first female member of the Orange Bowl Committee and of the Non-Group, a group of influential business people. March 17, 1999: Barry University, the school she has guided as president since 1981, continues its phenomenal growth by purchasing a law school. June 11, 1999: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce honors O'Laughlin again, this time with the Florida Athena award, bestowed in recognition of the opportunities she created for women at Barry. November 3, 1999: O'Laughlin is named chairwoman of Mayor Alex Penelas's blue-ribbon panel to clean up and reinvent Miami International Airport. November 13, 1999: Gov. Jeb Bush selects O'Laughlin for induction into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame. November 25, 1999: Elian Gonzalez is rescued at sea.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®