There's plenty of choice horseflesh in South Florida each winter, but the most appealing thoroughbreds to pass through the region were Julie Harris and Charles Durning. The two arrived as part of the National Actors Theatre's touring production of The Gin Game, directed by Charles Nelson Reilly. This sentimental piffle of a play by D.L. Coburn won the Pulitzer for drama in 1977, but it's the actors who have aged well. They portrayed Weller (Durning) and Fonsia (Harris), two geezers abandoned by their families and dumped into a second-rate nursing home. Blending their disparate acting styles into a kind of demonic waltz (imagine a brainy spider battling cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn), Harris and Durning turned all dramatic expectations on their heads. In their hands even a piece of dramatic dross can seem like gold.
Oddly enough, in an area known as one of the winter vegetable baskets of the nation, it's slim pickings for farmers' markets in Miami-Dade County. Basically there seems to be two options: Pinecrest or Coral Gables. Located in the parking lot of Gardner's Market, the Pinecrest operation offers a feast for the taste buds and a greater selection than its Coral Gables equivalent. If you don't believe us, just compare; you can hit both in the same weekend: Pinecrest is held on Sunday, the Gables on Saturday. In addition to plentiful citrus and vegetables, a variety of orchids and plants can be found. Other vendors sell homemade oils, jams, salsas, and baked goods. Unfortunately Pinecrest, like Coral Gables, is seasonal. It only runs from January to mid-April.
Tucked away from view, this triangle of land is wedged between NW Twelfth Avenue, State Road 836, and the north bank of the Miami River. Advertised as the most exclusive subdivision for sale in Miami in 1919, its developer, 49-year-old John Seybold, insisted on deed restrictions to preserve leafy, shaded streets and houses set back on ample lots. It worked! Eighty-one years later, giant banyan trees and moss-draped live oaks shade grand old homes built in Florida vernacular and Victorian styles. The breeze coming up the river, along with the lush foliage, keep the temperatures down. Everyone seems to have a dog, which gives a lively neighborhood feel to the otherwise quiet streets. One of Miami's four historic districts, Spring Garden even boasts a park that neighbors cobbled together themselves. Located on a spit of land jutting into the river, it's appropriately called Spring Garden Point Park.
So Miami had this one coach with interesting hair, who is a legend, who succeeded a legend, then didn't succeed. Miami still has this other coach with interesting hair, who is a legend, who succeeded a very nice man named Alvin Gentry, but this guy hasn't succeeded either. Granted it's tough to make any judgments about Jim Morris's hair, seeing as he wears a hat to work and all. But in 1993 he did succeed a legend by the name of Ron Fraser, who had led the University of Miami Hurricanes baseball team to two national championships during his legendary career. The proverbial tough act to follow. But Morris has pulled it off, skippering Bobby Hill, Mike Neu, Kevin Brown, and company to the program's first College World Series championship since 1985 (earning his second Collegiate Baseball National Coach of the Year award in the process). UM baseball: under new management, but the legend continues.
In October 1999 the Miami-Dade County Commission took another small step in the right direction when it unanimously approved expansion of the powers of the county's Commission on Ethics by allowing the group to initiate its own investigations. Previously the ethics panel could only act if a member of the public filed a complaint. Few in the community had the courage to challenge a sitting county commissioner, and so the ethics commission had received few complaints, even though it was eager to move. The statute of limitations on possible ethics violations also was extended from one year to three. "I think it will give us another piece of the puzzle to fight corruption," Robert Meyers, executive director of the Commission on Ethics, told the county commission. Let's hope so.
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?

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®