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.

We want to send a shout out to the Big Lip Bandit. All right. All right. Okay. We'd kiss you if your lips weren't so big. All right. All right. Okay. A bppppppppppppppppppppppp raspberry your way, brother. The BL Bandit (actually a relatively modest-lipped Philadelphia native) has turned weeknights on 99 Jamz into a raucous and extremely social party in which the music may be played merely to give his lips a well-earned rest before he unleashes another explosion of distinctive, infectious patter. As most of Miami knows by now, the man has a mouth.
Rooney has enjoyed one of those Abe Lincoln careers: failure after failure until, unexpectedly, emerging as an extraordinarily capable leader. The little-known player out of C.W. Post University arrived in Miami after being waived by the MetroStars. He struggled for playing time, and when he did take the field, he didn't score a goal in 22 games. Under new coach Ray Hudson, though, Rooney's talents began to emerge. Last season Rooney moved from defensive substitute to midfield starter. He began scoring goals and dishing out assists. Then he won the title of team captain. By the end of the year his gritty play was so respected by the media covering the team that the once-obscure reserve was voted Fusion MVP. At this rate of improvement, it's only a matter of time before the Rooney Memorial is built overlooking the Lockhart Stadium reflecting pool.
Walking along Biscayne Boulevard in the Edgewater neighborhood, you may have noticed a smiling sun rising above a wooden fence. On the other side sits a Haitian culture garden. In one corner two large eyes look out from an altar to the sensual Ezili. Toward the center of the garden a larger-than-life cutout of a leader of the Haitian revolution towers above a mound dedicated to warriors. A poem calling for respect and justice for all is written on the wall in Kreyol beside a small wooden store. A pole that channels the vodou gods from the other world into the bodies of faithful dancers rises before a stage where on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights local musicians and poets perform. Inside the gallery, where proprietor Jude "Papaloko" Thegenus resides, hang ironworks, paintings, and photographs by local Haitian artists. The Caribbean Backyard is more evidence of the do-it-yourself culture that is sprouting everywhere across the neighborhoods of Miami.
Mason could be named the best Heat player simply for avoiding the sinful temptations of South Beach. Long known as one of the NBA's more volatile stars, during his pre-Heat days he racked up an impressive arrest record for gun possession, assault, battery on a police officer, endangering the welfare of a child, and public drunkenness. When he played for the New York Knicks under Pat Riley, the coach suspended him twice. This year Mase, as he is known, could win a good-citizenship award. He's quit drinking and taken up Bible study. His relationship with Riley is full of mutual praise. More important, he is having his second-best year in the NBA, with an average of 15.9 points per game and 9.7 rebounds. And he deserves much of the credit for the Heat's success in the absence of Alonzo Mourning. His excellent ball-handling has helped make up for Tim Hardaway's diminishing skills. More often than not it has fallen to Mason to guard some of the league's hardest covers, including Chris Webber, Tim Duncan, and Shaquille O'Neal. He has acquitted himself admirably against these big men. At age 34, which can be ancient in the NBA, he is averaging 40 minutes per game. Mase is a free agent next year. One can only hope Riley finds a way to keep him in the lineup.
The numbers alone are enough. This sophomore quarterback from Orinda, California, set a team record for pass attempts without an interception. He led the Big East in passing yardage and total offense, earning first-team all-conference honors ahead of Virginia Tech magician Michael Vick. The future alone is enough. In only his first full season as a starter, Dorsey played an instrumental role in the Canes' 11-1 record and near-miss of a national championship. But what about the drive? Ah, yes, The Drive. Fifty-one seconds. Seven plays. Six completions. Sixty-eight yards. When it was all over, when Dorsey raised his arms skyward in victory, Miami held a three-point lead over then top-ranked Florida State with less than a minute to play. And Dorsey had emerged as the most valuable player on a team full of talent.
The Florida Marlins pitcher had to be scratched from his scheduled May 11, 2000, home start against the Braves because he strained his back while rising from a reclining chair in front of his clubhouse's television set.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®