In 1988 Ramon Cernuda presided over an auction of paintings held at the Cuban Museum of Art and Culture. The works were created by Cuban artists who had not broken with the Castro regime. The new owner of Manuel Mendive's Pavo Real promptly stepped outside and set it ablaze in the presence of cheering protesters. (Twice the museum was severely damaged by bombs.) A year later the feds accused Cernuda of purchasing Cuban art in violation of the embargo; they raided his Brickell Avenue condo and confiscated 240 paintings. A federal judge angrily denounced the seizure and ordered the works returned. Today the backsides of those paintings display U.S. Treasury/Customs Service seals, the same ones used to label intercepted drugs. Who would have thought that eleven years later, Cernuda would be opening an art gallery specializing in Cuban art from the island, smack in the middle of Coral Gables. This past fall Cernuda Arte made its debut with an exhibition of Cuban originals by masters such as Amelia Pelaez, Wifredo Lam, and Carlos Enriquez. Currently the gallery represents six working artists. Two of them, Demi and Sinuhé Vega, are based in Miami. The others create in Cuba. They are Flora Fong, Juan Roberto Diago, Alfredo Sosabravo, and Rigoberto Pelaez. "We are very open about what we do," Cernuda says. Boy, have times changed.
Hidden among the storefronts of downtown's shopping district is a horde of local talent: musicians and artists, poets and dancers. On any given night, many of them can be found at the Wallflower Gallery. Never heard of it? Well, listen up. You're the one missing out. Gallery hours are 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Performance events take place later, usually Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights beginning around 9:00. Unless otherwise advertised, admission is a modest six dollars. Performers have included Omine, Susan Laurenzi, Dr. Madd Vibe featuring Angelo Moore from Fishbone, Ladybud, and Boxelder. That's a lot of music for an art gallery, but it is indeed a gallery. The work of up to twenty artists and craftspeople can be on display at any given time. This is an unpretentious place that attracts unpretentious people; no snooty champagne-and-cheese receptions here. Try muffins and granola, or maybe some green tea. Before joining the chorus that whines, "Miami has no culture," check out Wallflower.

Since 1965 Red Berry has been teaching youngsters to pitch, catch, bat, and spit like a major leaguer. At various times he also has served as a coach for the University of Miami Hurricanes and a professional baseball scout. He likes to claim at least some of the credit for the careers of players who went on to play for teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and Toronto Blue Jays. The secret to the decades-old formula? Teaching the kids proper player development, to be part of a team, and to have a good time. Summer camp begins in June. Sounds like fun, and if there's any truth to the Baseball World slogan, it is just that: "Home to America's happiest ballplayers."

Best Cuban Baseball Player (Recently Retired)

Rene Arocha

In 1991 Arocha became the first member of the Cuban national baseball team to defect to the United States, opening the floodgates for other Cuban peloteros such as El Duque, Osvaldo Fernandez, and Livan Hernandez. For that he will go down in history. Arocha didn't bag a multimillion-dollar contract like other Cuban players who followed. He signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for a meager $15,000 and made less then $150,000 his first year. But for Arocha it's not about the money. It's about being first -- but definitely not last.
How to prove your mettle: After coming off another stellar year, injure your right ankle in an early season victory over New England. Miss five full starts. During your absence watch other teams run over your replacements as if they were Bermuda grass. Come back even though you're still in so much pain you feel, you say, "like an old man" at age 27. Still serve as the anchor of an excellent defense that carries your team to a division title. Still earn selection to the Pro Bowl. That's how.
Drag queens are like birthday cakes: layered and coated with thick frosting painstakingly applied to evoke strong reactions. The cake most full of surprises in this town full of queens is Ivana, the shiny-lipped, bawdy broad from Buenos Aires. When she struts atop the bar at Cactus in white hot pants and go-go boots, be prepared for an onslaught of camel-toe jokes from a girl who is just about ready to bust out of her own outfit. Try as she might to be classy, whiskey-voiced Ivana can't help it. If her lip-synching to saccharine pop is a little off, her sense of timing when she emcees her shows in Spanish is fierce. Watch her sparks fly Friday nights at Ozone and Saturday nights with Adora at Cactus.
Artistic director Michael Hall did South Florida theatergoers two favors this season. First he brought the socially relevant and riveting docudrama The Laramie Project to his stage. It was the first production after the play's off-Broadway debut. Second he assembled a troupe with the range and experience to make the production not only important theater but good theater as well. Dressed in drab brown tones, the ensemble of eight portrayed more than sixty characters, from townspeople to ranchers, doctors, reporters, and friends of Matthew Shepard, the young gay man who was beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die by two local boys in Laramie, Wyoming. With fluid and subtle transitions, these characters switched roles seamlessly, revealing an unforgettable cross section of small-town America and a staggering array of attitudes. The Laramie Project featured Kim Cozort, Jason Field, Laurie Gamache, Jacqueline Knapp, Pat Nesbit, Mark Rizzo, Robert Stoeckle, and Michael Warga.
No half-naked waitresses here. None of those annoying black-clad Dave and Buster's-style security guards talking into their walkie-talkies -- just good clean fun for the whole family. Well, maybe not so clean. The paintball does get pretty messy. Norm Kramer, owner and founder of Tropical Fun Center, is proud of his facility and with good reason: It is the only remaining establishment of its kind in Miami-Dade County. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., the illuminated outdoor paintball arena is just one of the many exciting entertainment choices this place offers. Start off with some miniature golf. The eighteen-hole course was rated "most challenging" by the chamber of commerce. Then strap the kids into a NASCAR go-kart and let them tear around Miami's only all-concrete, banked go-kart track. If eighteen miles per hour is too fast, then send the kids off to the "roller-racing track." Kids of any age can sit on these funny little contraptions and zip around till they're exhausted. The arcade is standard electronic and pinball (though low on the hyperviolence). But there's something refreshingly different about the posted signs that warn against smoking and using profanity. This truly is a place for the whole family.

Dolphins wide receiver O.J. McDuffie knows you can't play good unless you feel good. And you can't possibly feel good unless you ... look good. That's why, before a big home game against rival Buffalo, McDuffie petitioned head coach Dave Wannstedt to toss out the garish green pants the team had worn at home for the past three seasons in favor of the white pants and matching white shirts the team wore in its glory days. Wannstedt allowed the change, and the Fins looked positively resplendent in a 22-13 win. "Whatever it takes," said a victorious Wannstedt afterward, referring not to the gridiron war but to the wardrobe.
This year was a glorious one for the city's largest film festival. Getting off to a head start last December with the Miami premiere of Julian Schnabel's tour de force, Before Night Falls, the late-February event presented one of the best selections in the eighteen years since its inception. From the riveting French period drama The Widow of St. Pierre to the ambient Chinese study In the Mood for Love, the festival surveyed the best of contemporary trends in cinema. An especially strong Latin-American lineup included Barbet Schroeder's controversial existential meditation Our Lady of the Assassins; Andrucha Waddington's Brazilian feminist romp You, Me, Them; and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's brash music-video-style Mexico City epic Amores Perros. In these films, as in the documentaries set in Cuba -- Jane Burnett and Larry Cramer's Spirits of Havana and Uli Gaulke's Havana, Mi Amor -- the music made as strong an impact as the celluloid. The felicitous synching of sight and sound climaxed in the festival anchor and audience-award winner, Fernando Trueba's documentary of Latin jazz, Calle 54. As if Trueba's loving portraits were not magical enough, the festival's after-hours Baileys Club brought the film to life with standout performances by Puntilla, Cachao, and the venerable Bebo Valdés.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®