"Oooh!" our car squealed as a young Cuban fellow yanked open her doors and began vacuuming nooks and crannies she didn't even remember having. They'd been crudded up that long. Somehow he's able to distinguish and therefore not throw away the valuables lost in a thick layer of gym clothes, fast-food bags, spilled laundry detergent, and work papers we meant to take home but have actually been ferrying around town for weeks. Car-wash packages range from $9 to $19, and detailing services run $30 to $40. We chose the $11.95 premium wash, which includes something called "wheel bright." Inside the building there's a long hallway with windows so you can satisfy that voyeuristic urge to watch the pressurized water and soap blasting off the bird droppings and thick layer of road dust covering the windows. The waiting room is cool, sufficiently stocked with coffee, soda machines, an ice cream freezer, and a stand supporting bags of plantain chips. The television gets remarkably clear reception and is perpetually tuned to lurid but alluring telenovelas. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and Sunday. On Saturday it's 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
All you need is a sense of adventure and a willingness to get a little dirty. Need a chair? A bookcase? An African mask? Who knows what you'll discover in the stylish home-furnishings center of Miami. Sneak around the back alleys, lift a lid, hoist yourself up, and peer inside. One advantage: There are practically no restaurants here (apologies to Piccadilly Garden and Buena Vista Café), so you won't be wading through rotting foodstuffs. For an added adrenaline rush, there's the risk of being questioned by a police officer who thinks it's mighty strange you're doing this. You may or may not be asked to leave, depending upon whether the Dumpster is on city or private property. And should you find something worth keeping, you'll have a nice little story to tell.

Last December the school board brushed aside a proposal by its maverick member, Marta Perez, to create an ethics commission that would act as a watchdog over the district. Why? Millions squandered on questionable land purchases. Fortunes spent to settle sexual-harassment lawsuits. Administrators with diploma-mill degrees. Overcrowded classrooms. Underpaid teachers. Unwelcome parents. But in rejecting the measure, Perez's colleagues argued that they didn't need an ethics commission because there weren't any problems. Now, that takes chutzpah.
Miami actually is controlled by a secret cabal of gay Cuban men known as Los Pollos Tropicales. (All right, we made up the name, but we're pretty sure about the rest of it.)

What more is there to say than "farewell"?
"There is a substantial likelihood that the “Cuba Affidavit' will be found unconstitutional," Moreno declared in a seventeen-page ruling in May of last year. And with that he suspended the so-called Cuba ordinance, which required that anyone conducting business with Miami-Dade County sign a document vowing not to transact business with Cuba or with any business that conducts business with Cuba. The most prominent targets, however, were county-funded activities that brought musicians and artists from the island. Moreno put the handwriting on the wall in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Miami Light Project, GableStage, Teatro La Ma Teodora, and concert promoters Hugo Cancio and Debbie Ohanian. At the time the U.S. Supreme Court was reviewing a similarly repressive Massachusetts state law targeting business dealings, including cultural exchanges, with the repressive regime in Myanmar (the country once known as Burma). When the justices nixed that law in June of last year, Moreno dutifully followed suit with a pro-forma edict declaring the Cuba ordinance unconstitutional. Poof! County lawyers vanished from the courtroom without argument. Soon the highly uncomfortable (but constitutionally protected) rhetorical contortions performed by the ordinance's defenders, including county commissioners Javier Souto and Miriam Alonso, Mayor Alex Penelas, and lawyer Victor Diaz, also disappeared from view. There is, however, a substantial likelihood that some of them still believe it makes sense to oppose a dictator by thinking like one.
A repeat victory for the no-longer-so-boyish Herald columnist, who last won this award in 1996, following his arrest for disorderly intoxication at Johnny Rockets restaurant in Coconut Grove. (Charges were later dropped.) Five years later the still-single sportswriter has joined George Clooney, Derek Jeter, and Matt Damon as one of People magazine's "100 Most Eligible Bachelors." In the magazine LeBatard squats over a pool table and admits he's "never been in love." People made no mention of "I Am the Hunter," the notorious 1800-word essay LeBatard wrote for Cosmopolitan in 1997. "Men like me travel in packs, pursuing perfume, and we find the chase more intoxicating than everything after it," LeBatard admitted. "We dabble in relationships for the same reason we dabble in hunting: There's an incomparable rush wrapped in the search and discovery. But then, when the last bullet has been fired and the gun is spent, when the conquest is complete and the game is done and we get to see what we've done close up, all that remains is the blood and the smell and a mess to clean up. Doesn't mean we won't go hunting again, mind you. We drink after a bad hangover, don't we?" Hard to believe the guy hasn't found a mate.
For reasons unknown it was a banner year for errata brimming with political intrigue, even paranoia. Any number of conspiracy theories spring to mind while reading them. For example an El Nuevo Herald story that ran July 20, 2000, reported that fallout from the Elian saga had caused a decline in Republican Party membership in these parts. Wait a minute. That's impossible! Everyone knows the Democrats take their orders from Fidel. The correction, which editors craftily dubbed a "clarification," affirmed that the Democratic Party (you know, Janet Reno's people) suffered the loss.

Another intriguing erratum ran after an article by Miami Herald reporter Elinor J. Brecher this past April contained a curious case of mistaken identity. The story was an account of a Bay of Pigs conference in Cuba that brought together veterans from the revolutionary army and five open-minded members of Brigade 2506, the anti-Castro invasion force. Like the invasion, the story had problems. It reported that a real-life relative of John F. Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and Pierre Salinger were among the participants. It should have said Jean Kennedy Smith (JFK's sister) and Richard Goodwin (a JFK advisor) attended. Thanks to operatives deep inside the Knight Ridder organization, Anthony Shriver, who is considering launching a political career in Miami Beach, may have lost the Brigade 2506 vote. Unlike most of its corrections, this one did not include the phrase "The Herald regrets the error." Hmmm.

But the weirdest erratum resulted from an El Nuevo Herald story by Rui Ferreira about Radio Martí, the U.S. government station that broadcasts to Cuba. Angelica Mora, a Chilean journalist, filed a discrimination complaint after station management replaced her with a Cuban-American reporter. The original story read: "According to the testimony of Ramon Cotta -- at the time news director of Radio Martí -- [Office of Cuban Broadcasting director] San Roman [said] that the journalist's departure resulted from suspicions about her professional integrity." For unknown reasons the February 28, 2001, correction presented entirely new information, particularly allegations that the Cuban government had planted stories on Radio Martí and quotes from station employees about an open FBI investigation that was supposed to be kept quiet. "The paragraph that mentions ... Ramon Cotta should have said: “Cotta contacted the office of the Inspector General and reported that San Roman had told him the FBI was conducting an investigation about five reports transmitted by Radio Martí that were planted by the Cuban government. San Roman also told Cotta that Radio Martí employees could be involved in the conspiracy.... San Roman told Cotta not to talk to anyone about the FBI investigation." Oops.

The operative word is organic. This is the place to find it fresh and in a pleasant, natural setting. Cactus fruit and mustard greens, rutabaga and nectarines. Flax seeds and bee pollen to lift you up. Rows of tight green asparagus bundles, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. A rainbow of peppers like you won't believe: purple, green, red, yellow, orange. Fantastic mushrooms: oyster, portabello, shiitake, and crimini to name a few. Fruits to fit your moods. A variety of oils, butters, and freshly baked breads. Perfectly reasonable prices and a diligent staff of Birkenstocked twentysomethings to offer a helping hand. What more could you ask for?

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®