Best Unguarded Moment Caught On Videotape 2000 | Henry Fraind | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Best Unguarded Moment Caught On Videotape

Henry Fraind

In his many years as the public face of the county's public schools, Fraind had repeatedly proven himself to be inarticulate, insensitive, and inflexible. When school-board members finally got tired of him making them look bad and decided, at their March meeting, to appoint someone else as their spokesman, Fraind demonstrated the wisdom of the decision by offering an upraised arm and fist -- in the universal gesture for "up yours" -- to a parent who had questioned his salary level. How ironic that the first candid, straightforward, concise statement from this guy, captured by the television cameras that record each meeting, came only on the eve of his removal as the district's mouthpiece.
It's supposed to feel like a little bit of Nantucket down here on the lower peninsula. A fresh and crisp Northeastern respite from the scorching Southern sun. But really the lobby in the new Beach House is Florida through and through. This is no rectangular foyer, stop-over-while-you-check-in type of lobby. Instead you get different lounges with different flavors for different moods, all outfitted (if the blue hue didn't already give it away) by the Polo Ralph Lauren design team. If you enter from Collins Avenue, huge vases of fresh-cut flowers -- usually yellow -- greet the visitor at the entrance, which is decked out in muted blue and white. But no need to dally here. Head for the bright and playful room to the right -- the, well, Florida room. Two walls are windows, with views out to the pool and to the ocean beyond. Lime-green covers the walls; pink, salmon, yellow, green, and blue cover the cushions and pillows on the white-wicker furniture. That may sound noisy but it's not. The colors combine into a soothing balm, light and airy but well removed from the heat. All the rooms are furnished like a bed and breakfast -- knickknacks on the end tables, art books scattered about for a leisurely browse. The main lobby is toned down, furnished in brown wicker with blue upholstery, and trimmed with sophisticated Chinese porcelains and paintings (heavy on deep red and gold, adding an extra-lush touch). From here it's also possible to see the pool area, which really should be considered part of the lobby as well, with its multicolor cabanas, ample seating, and hedges sculpted into sea horses. Grab a drink from the bar and choose your mood: There's no better way to refresh your feeling for Florida.
In a season fraught with top-drawer solo performances (Charles Nelson Reilly in Life of Reilly, Kathleen Turner in Tallulah, Melinda Lopez in Medianoche, and Jean Stapleton in Eleanor: Her Secret Journey), Judith Delgado towered over all. Playing fashion diva Diana Vreeland, the actress delivered a performance that lived up to Vreeland's motto: "Give 'em what they didn't know they wanted." Vreeland's life story garnered 1996 Drama Desk and Obie awards for creators Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson when Wilson starred in it. Elizabeth Ashley did the honors when the national tour passed through South Florida in 1998. Nonetheless Delgado, a genius at transforming herself, turned the tastemaker and long-time Vogue editor into something of her own (and director Joseph Adler's) making. Even the actress's elegant, oversize hands conspired to become a perfect physical match for Vreeland's elegant, larger-than-life personality. It was a performance that reached out and grabbed us by our lapels.
"Have Character, Will Travel." So reads the business card of Daniel Ricker, self-appointed "citizen advocate," who spent the past year attending county commission meetings, city commission meetings, school board meetings, and Public Health Trust meetings, all in an effort to better understand how government operates. He even sat through the public-corruption trial of former county Commissioner James Burke so he could hear firsthand how deals are made at the county level. Why did he do it? Ricker, who made his fortune managing international companies that sell coronary pacemakers, says he became so disgusted with the sleaze and corruption of politics in South Florida that, rather than withdraw into apathy, he became hyperactive in the community. He took a year off work and dedicated himself to his task. A man of limitless patience (a necessary attribute in order to sit through some of those meetings), he says he never became bored and always found the working of government fascinating and important. Simply knowing that an informed member of the public was attending those meetings, watching every move they made, undoubtedly had a sobering effect on Miami's less-than-trustworthy politicians and bureaucrats.
In a county with woefully slim public-transportation options, Miami Beach planners looked out their windows, past the backed-up traffic at the stoplights, and saw the future. It was pretty, environmentally friendly, and didn't cost a lot. The ElectroWave shuttle buses premiered two years ago and have proven to be a wonderfully hassle-free way to navigate the often congested streets of South Beach. And a good thing was recently improved: In April the routes were expanded to cover more city blocks north of the original South Pointe-to-Seventeenth Street loop. Plus the fleet grew from seven to eleven vehicles, and payment options were increased (you can now use your parking debit card to pay the 25-cent fare). The shuttles are completely electric, with propane-powered air-conditioning units. "We are the only all-electric transit system in the country," exclaims Judy Evans, executive director of Miami Beach Transportation Management Association. "We've become a model for other cities."

Last year's winner got even better this year. In Motion Dance Center expanded from its base on Bird Road and is now contributing to the Biscayne Boulevard renaissance with a new studio in a quaint converted house. Local dancers finally get the facilities they deserve, with high ceilings, exposed beams, a wide expanse of mirror, and an enormous floor. Offerings range from staples such as ballet, modern, and jazz to West African, hip-hop, contact improvisation, and the posture-enhancing Pilates technique. During off-hours In Motion instructors and local choreographers use the studio as a rehearsal space for upcoming performances, commercials, and music videos.
Every weekend, particularly on holidays, large numbers of people take to the water. The transformation of these landlubbers into weekend mariners is not always smooth. Add alcohol to the mix, and it can be downright disastrous. At no time is this more obvious than at the end of the day, when they try to move their boats from water to trailer. And at Black Point Marina, they have an audience. Most weekends, positioned on a hill overlooking the boat ramps, are picnickers and beer drinkers who have come to watch the amateurs try to make it home. So established has this pastime become that its participants have earned a nickname: dock ghouls. On a good day, the ghouls' gallery will be witness to boats crashing into the quay, cars slipping into the water, and relationships tanking in public. A weak parking brake or balding tires can turn success into tragicomedy. All too familiar is the sight of macho man, who hours earlier had tried to impress his girlfriend with his fancy boat, but who now lashes out at her in frustration over his inability to get the damn thing out of the water. Add to such scenes the presence of cops hopping from vessel to vessel checking licenses, and you'll have to agree: You cannot buy entertainment this good.
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.
Remember WAMI, the overly hyped television-station startup? The one with the glamorous sidewalk studios on Lincoln Road? The one that was going to revolutionize TV by returning it to its extremely local roots? The City Was Their Studio or something like that? As anyone who has spent any time in this town knows, the real Miami is not South Beach glitz but rather a gritty Hialeah warehouse, like the one from which Channel 41 continues to broadcast handcrafted, exceedingly local, often wonderful programming, absent the self-absorbed fanfare. A Oscuras pero Encendidos (In the Dark but Turned On) is a typical success story. A riskier, sloppier, often more fun variant of the Late Show with David Letterman, A Oscuras proves that young affluent Latins will watch Spanish-language television. With puppets and spokesmodels and strippers and an opera-singing, keyboard-playing sidekick, A Oscuras is fun, irreverent, and perfectly Miami. WAMI should take notice -- if WAMI is still on the air.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®