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.
Is your home office lacking some gadgets? Maybe your computer blew a chip and Web withdrawal is taking its toll? Perhaps you've never had a computer and want to see what all the fuss is about? Internet access is not only available at Kafka's, it's cool. Long a ramshackle used bookstore and coffee bar with a European beatnik feel, the place has added about twenty Pentium II and III Hewlett-Packard computers. Amid the books and magazines are a color laser printer, scanners, equipment to duplicate CDs, and even the stuff you need to video-conference. Translation programs for French, German, Spanish, English, and Italian also are available. Open from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., this is a low-budget nerd's dream. The first hour of surfing costs nine dollars, and then the price drops on a sliding scale. You have to pay but a buck to log on for the minimum. To maximize your typing speed, you might want to get jacked on some strong espresso before beginning. If it's all too 21st century for you, read a book.
This Overtown theater mirrored its dilapidated surroundings when the Black Archives History and Research Foundation took possession in 1988. The roof bore a massive hole. A fire caused extensive damage to the interior. Birds claimed the abandoned rafters. Thanks to $1.5 million in grants and a ton of elbow grease, the 400-seat venue, built in 1913, celebrated its grand reopening this past March. Roof repairs keep the elements out and fresh paint adds a sparkling touch. A large mural on the south exterior wall depicts 27 black leaders. Inside, metal seats and clear sightlines invite patrons to relax in air-conditioned comfort. It's an invitingly intimate space. You can almost imagine what it must have been like when, in its heyday, the Lyric anchored an entertainment district frequented by legends such as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and many others. "Progress" in the form of I-95 and I-395 destroyed the neighborhood and threw it into poverty. The Lyric's restoration is a source of pride in black Miami and should serve as inspiration for Overtown's long-overdue revival.

Best Politician Convicted In The Past Twelve Months

Alberto Gutman

The state senator pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to defraud Medicare and was removed from office by the governor. Gutman's scheme cost taxpayers nearly two million dollars between 1990 and 1992, according to prosecutors, who alleged that he held a secret interest in a pair of home-health-care companies that ripped off Medicare by submitting false bills for phony patients. Gutman's guilty plea, which came several weeks into his trial, capped one of the sleaziest political careers in Miami-Dade County history. Now, that's saying something.
Suited men on their way to someplace else get their shoes shined. A woman vends green plantains and umbrellas under the Metromover. Beneath the bench-wrapped trees outside the county government's headquarters, there is shade and a breeze even on the hottest day. In this multiple-ring circus of the absurd, nothing much happens, yet it is fascinating, mesmerizing. Everyone is either selling, playing a part, or part of the audience. Judges of man stroll by men who preach about the power of a higher judge. While the barker calls out muffled destinations and arrivals, the roar of the train, the screech of the bus delivers the next pack of freaks, jesters, lion tamers, and popcorn pushers costumed in skirts, ties, plastic bags, and tired painted faces. Children of all ages carrying their burdens, briefcases, babies. Ladies and gentleman, step right up: Inside the building politicians and bureaucrats make decisions about our community. Outside is the community itself, in a hurry to get somewhere.
Miami's most prominent reading series, by current authors of predictably high caliber, is a good way to defy this city's tendency to settle for beauty over substance. And no doubt about it, intelligence more often than not cultivates a singular kind of beauty. In short, good-looking women go to these things, and they probably are smarter than your average barfly. If you spy a single woman at a reading, chances are good she's looking for more in a mate than a walking billfold. And if she's alone, she's either single or her boyfriend doesn't share her interests. All the more reason for you to sidle up and see if she wants to deconstruct Susan Sontag over an espresso.

Best Sign That Tom Fiedler Is Spending Too Much Time At The Gym

In a New Year's Day column, the Herald's opinion page editor asked readers to think of him and the other members of the paper's blandly predictable and pitifully self-important editorial board as "fitness instructors for your intellect."
All Dan Blonsky wanted, he told Regis Philbin, was a date with supermodel Elle Macpherson. All he got instead was the grand prize on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Blonsky -- single, 34 years old, a graduate of Palmetto Senior High, and an attorney at a Coconut Grove law firm -- advanced to the final round by knowing who appeared on the first cover of People magazine (Mia Farrow), what food is served al dente (pasta, duh), and which country first granted women the right to vote (Switzerland). Blonsky never lost his cool, even after his final answer (yes, his final answer) of 93 million miles from Earth to sun. As confetti swirled around him, Blonsky radiated serenity, no doubt thinking how the money will allow him to bide his time until the next television sweeps period. Surely Who Wants to Date a Supermodel? must be in the works.
Not since Richard Nixon declared "I am not a crook" has a politician shoved his foot so far down his throat as Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas did earlier this year during the Elian Gonzalez crisis. Even Ted Koppel felt the need to fly into town and bitch-slap our sexy little mayor on national television for his abrasive and incendiary comments toward Attorney General Janet Reno. Once a golden boy of the Democratic Party, even rumored to be on Al Gore's list of possible running mates, Penelas is now a national joke. The only cabinet post in his future is the one he can buy at Home Depot.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®