If right wing Pavel Bure remains the Panthers' superstar, a goal addict forever in search of his next fix, then center Viktor Kozlov serves as his pusher. Kozlov, who skates with Bure on the team's number one line, feeds a steady supply of dazzling passes toward his Russian countryman. Kozlov is the best stick handler in the league. The attention defenders must give to his powerful wrist shot creates opportunities Bure is skilled at exploiting. Not that Kozlov can't score on his own; during the 1999-2000 season, he set personal bests in goals, assists, and points. A nagging shoulder injury kept his numbers down this season, but when he's healthy and in the lineup, he, Bure, and the rest of the team all play at their best.
"A place as busy as this could really become a mess without good management," said an alligator to another one evening in the mangroves of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

"Yeah, I noticed one night them restrooms were cleaner than you'd normally expect, at least for Homo sapiens' restrooms."

"Yep. Quite clean. They were actually stocked with soap and paper."

"The Lighthouse Café over yonder is not too intrusive either. I kinda like the design."

"Lots of wood. Blends right in. Kind of reminds me of the beach at Cape Cod. The café is a little crowded on the weekends, but that must mean they got something mighty tasty in there."

"They'd probably be scared if we went, though. They'd think we'd eat them."

"But we wouldn't."

"No, sir. Strictly frogs and birds. Maybe an occasional poodle."

"They'd probably try to eat us."

"As long as they stay on the trails or on the beach, I think we'll be okay."

"I heard they don't give out straws at the café because they found out that when straws blow into the ocean, they hurt the aquatic animals. Now that's another sign of good management."

"Yeah, the place has come along way. Especially considering that amazing tornado we had back in '92."

"Tornado Andrew I think they called it."

"The humans did a nice job on the restoration. They looked at some historical photos and put in a lot of native plants like sea oats, sea grapes, spike rush, mangroves, and saw grass. That's pretty much why I came back."

"Me too. I love that saw grass. You notice how a lot more water birds started showing up?"

"Yum."

"A couple of crocodiles even came back."

"Are they the gray ones with the tapered snouts?"

"Yep, but they're harmless. As long as you stay away from their kids."

"Who is the manager anyway?"

"A guy named Niblock. Lee Niblock. Been superintendent since October '94. He recently helped get the state to change the place from recreation area to park, which means only twenty percent can be used for human recreation. You know, like parking and eating. Lately he's been trying to keep a group from building some baseball fields in here on 30 acres."

"Must be a good man."

Well, why not? This is one language in which at least 80 percent of Miami-Dade County residents can claim to have some proficiency. Besides making millions for the likes of Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan, bilingual performance, when done well, provides an entertaining aural experience and an intriguing oral history, as Michael John Garces proved in Agua Ardiente, the show he wrote and directed. Of Cuban, Colombian, and American origins, Garces skillfully scripted his heritage through a lusty and heartbreaking array of personae. The one-man performance was both soliloquy and son, monologue and dialogue; it was an ode and a diatribe, a rant and a meditation. Garces's mastery of various poetic styles (language poetry, beat poetry, and spoken word) and his strong theatrical foundation made Agua Ardiente not a grab bag of form and language but an organic and energetic piece of bilingual drama.

How low can you go? At this underwater watering hole, you can go about twenty feet down, to the sandy floor of the ocean. Think of it this way: Even if you hit rock bottom, you'll never again have to moan, "How dry I am!" Here you're as likely to see a mermaid as a barmaid. In a marketing stunt that sounds more like a drunken prank, tequila magnate José Cuervo celebrated the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo in 2000 by actually sinking a full-size bar, complete with six stools, about 200 yards off of the First Street beach on South Beach. But this $45,000 structure attracts more than potential consumers. Behind the bar a curved wall of interlocking tetrahedrons, made from recycled concrete by long-time artificial-reef builder Ben Mostkoff, promotes algae growth, promising sea creatures and divers a lush environment. So stick around for last call. Sometimes, round about 3:00 a.m., if you're really quiet, you can hear the shrimp sing: "José Cuervo, you are a friend of mine/I like to drink you with a little salt and lime."
Let's get right to the point: BB's has more steel-tip dartboards than any public establishment in the county (thirteen). And there are two separate dart-throwing areas, which means there is plenty of room for the hotshots from the Miami-Dade Darting Association and the rest of us hacks. The dozen or so teams from the association regularly hold matches at BB's, which used to be called Norm's Hideout back when a guy named Norm and a gal named Dorothy founded the association in the Seventies. BB's is just off U.S. 1 in South Miami-Dade, which is the stomping grounds of most folks who are passionate about darting.

Milian was a voice for freedom and tolerance in a city that hasn't always understood those words. In 1976 terrorists tried to silence Milian by planting a bomb under his car. He survived the blast but lost both legs. "Six months after the bombing he walked out of a hospital on artificial legs," Milian's son Alberto noted during the eulogy to his father, who died March 15. "No warrior stood taller that day." But the bombing alone did not define Milian's life. He did that himself through word and deed, praying for a free Cuba but never accepting the notion that the goal justified employing the same tactics of fear and repression Castro uses to keep the island enslaved. In the final months of his life, his body began to fail him, but his spirit never faltered. And now, in death, his voice may at last be silenced, but his memory lives on as an inspiration.
How can an AM station be best, you ask? This could be a comment on the state of things on your highly predictable, highly commercial FM dial. But another reason is that many of us in Miami-Dade are living in the past, in more ways than one. For example the First Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1791, but many of us need a constant reminder that it still exists, especially when the words "Fidel Castro" are uttered. That's where WOCN comes in. It is the only Cuban-dominated AM station to offer a range of opinion from left to right. "We believe in freedom of speech," explains Richard Vega, who owns this station along with his father and uncle. "A lot of people in this town don't understand it." This is the station that airs the ironically titled Ayer en Miami (Yesterday in Miami), hosted by First Amendment freak Francisco Aruca, who operates a charter airline that flies to Cuba. Aruca is a loquacious opponent of the U.S. embargo against the island, which means that each day when he opens the phone lines, he confronts an onslaught of hecklers with no interest in dialogue but a great desire to shout obscenities and imitate gross bodily functions. Unlike radio hosts on other AM stations, Alvaro Sanchez Cifuentes has the gall to support diversity of opinion on his show, Transición (Transition), in which guests with different points of view discuss a panoply of issues regarding local and Cuban affairs. But being best in this cultural crossroads means broadening your ideological bandwidth and ethnic horizons. Hence, Vega notes, "Right-wing Nicaraguans are on the weekend." From 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. the station broadcasts an ever-meandering stream of programming aimed at the Haitian community.
For more than fifteen years, the creative-writing program at Florida International University has been producing one of the more lively and interesting reading series in South Florida. Housed at the North Campus of FIU, the series runs in the spring and fall of each year and is free and open to the public. Among the authors who have recently attended are the distinguished poets Maureen Seaton, Rebecca McClanahan, and Lorna Goodison, and novelists Bruce Jay Friedman, Miles Harvey, and Andrea Barrett.

Sixteen years after its original publication, Up for Grabs has been returned to print by the University Press of Florida, and it is as relevant as ever. As its author, John Rothchild, notes in the freshly written afterword to this enlightening local history, anyone pining for a more innocent era of our city's development needs to get a clue: "Miami rolled out the red carpet for Al Capone in the 1920s, became a playground for retired mobsters in the 1940s, was the target of a Senate crime committee in the 1950s, allowed bookies to operate openly in the lobbies of beachfront hotels in the 1960s, produced Watergate burglars in the 1970s, embraced the drug trade in the 1980s, and hosted the corruption epidemics of the 1990s." But forget about trying to pin all this chicanery on any one ethnic group or the elite. Rothchild offers a more compelling rationale for our hometown's ongoing loopiness: It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature. He reminds us that upon its founding, much of Miami was swampland, while Miami Beach was entirely manmade -- a strip of sand dredged from the ocean's bottom. Both common sense and the cosmos suggest that we just weren't meant to live here. Our city is a living testament to man's folly in the name of year-round sunshine and real estate speculation. And here you thought it was just something in the water.

Very early on in The Devil's Music, Miche Braden belted out a low blues note to let everyone know this woman is not just an actress; she's also a phenomenal singer. But Braden's acting was the real prize. The range of her characterization was sassy, wise, bitter, and flirtatious. She was inexhaustible, singing thirteen gut-wrenching tunes in 90 minutes with no intermissions or scene changes. Her stamina and heartbreaking blues lent so many dimensions to the character of Bessie Smith, giving her the stage presence of a diva and the theatricality of a broken woman. As rare as it is to find a talented actress who also happens to have a voice like Bessie Smith's, Braden's exceptional performance proves it is possible.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®