What more is there to say than "farewell"?
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.

This past December, when NBC named 35-year-old Miami native Jeff Zucker as the head of its entertainment division, he was not only one of the youngest hotshots to fill such a high-profile slot, he also was the first executive with a news background to take over the company's entertainment arm. And he's one of us: North Miami Senior High, class of 1982. "Hey, I'm a Miami boy," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer, explaining a style quirk. "Wearing shoes without socks is very Miami." The word wunderkind is used so frequently in describing him it's almost become his middle name. After joining NBC Sports in 1986 as a researcher/writer, he moved on to the Today show, where he rose to become executive producer at the tender age of 26. Critics give him full credit for imbuing that program with a news edge it previously lacked, and more important, for guiding it to unprecedented popularity and prosperity. He's also been the driving force behind many of NBC's highest-rated news specials. Moving from New York to Los Angeles may be just as shocking as going from presidential interviews to sitcom scripts, but he's a hearty lad who likes a challenge. No further proof is needed than his success in battling colon cancer -- twice.
Rumors of the zine form's death likely are premature, but our operatives inform us that at this juncture Rag appears to be one of the last specimens still available in paper at local CD stores. Free of charge. Every scene needs its scribes and, for example, did you know there are 116 rock bands in South Florida? Well, that's the unofficial count, which you'd know if you were a Rag reader. More important, the first-person-scarcely-edited-raw-copy zine form also is alive and kicking, as in this passage from Todd McFlicker's account of last year's Zen Fest: "Behind the gates of Bicentennial Park, a range of stereotypes ran amuck [sic]. There was an older crowd of Dead Heads, looking and smelling like Woodstock, along with kids whose pants were falling off. All ages were welcome to the event, but drinks were too expensive for most consenting adults to bother.... Backstage after the [Blues Traveler] set, the friendly Popper was giving autographs. Popper was continually signing some Jackass's photos until a security guard barked him away." The eponymous rag also has a utilitarian streak: It contains classifieds. Of most note is the musicians-seeking-musicians category.
In 1998, after eking out a victory in one of North Miami's ugliest mayoral elections ever, attorney Frank Wolland faced widespread doubts about his ability to overcome the town's growing racial and social rifts. At least a quarter of North Miami's 60,000 residents are Haitian; blacks now make up 55 percent of the population in this once-lily-white stronghold. Wolland's 1998 opponent, Joe Celestin, was the first Haitian to run for North Miami mayor, and his passionate supporters took the loss hard. But Wolland began an effort to encourage Haitians' involvement in civic life. He even inquired about enrolling in Kreyol classes but couldn't attend regularly. The feared ethnic polarization didn't occur in North Miami, and some Celestin supporters even wound up on Wolland's side for re-election. Thus his decision to take a breather from politics prompted a flood of calls to Wolland's law office, begging him to reconsider. "A lot of people were very unhappy," he concedes. "They came to me, and we talked it out. I just think it's time to spend a little more time with my kids and my [law practice]. So I decided to sit this one out." In retrospect Wolland's departure ushered in, as gracefully as one could hope, a new era of majority black leadership in North Miami.

It goes without saying that in South Florida it's rare to find politicians who don't betray themselves and their constituents within 30 minutes of taking the oath of office. But the newest Miami City Commissioner, a quick study and a hard worker, has remained true to his beliefs: Always be honest and straightforward, keep citizens' interests first, no backroom funny business. Winton's rectitude was most evident in his handling of the site-selection process for the Florida Marlins' proposed stadium. Citizens and activists who feared the Marlins were going to steamroll the city into accepting its demand that the stadium be located in Bicentennial Park found a champion in Winton. While most of Miami's established power structure believed it was a foregone conclusion that the team would usurp the park, Winton countered that the city commission had formed a task force to explore ways to reinvigorate that neglected parcel of land and turn it into a jewel. He argued that it was wrong simply to brush aside those efforts so the Marlins could place a concrete behemoth on the water. His willingness to speak out in a forceful manner galvanized public opinion against the Marlins and forced the team to accept an alternate location.

Best TV Station To Die In The Past Twelve Months

WAMI

Barry Diller's ballyhooed experiment in local programming died with the sale late last year of his thirteen-station USA Broadcasting company to Univision for $1.1 billion. WAMI was designed to be the flagship station in Diller's empire, a groundbreaking experiment that would revolutionize the industry. Instead it turned out to be a pathetic joke. In its two-and-a-half years on the air, WAMI promised far more than it ever delivered. The station was supposed to produce hour upon hour of local programming but quickly abandoned that and became best known for its M*A*S*H* reruns. Shows like The Times and Sportstown were interesting but never received the financial support they needed. The station's only hit was a T&A jigglefest called 10s. Not exactly original television. Univision is expected to transform WAMI into a Spanish-language station.

"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.
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.
Winds blows, storms flood, drought plagues, citrus canker rages, Elian goes home, Warshaw goes down, MIA radar goes down, Shalala arrives, Reno returns, Stierheim's out, juice bars are out, pirate radio lives, Bicentennial Park lives, Emilio Milian dies, Frosene Sonderling dies, Milt Sosin dies, Brickell Key gets built up, South Beach gets built up, Performing Arts Center still not built, Tom Tomlinson takes off, Angela Gittens touches down, Cuban spies pervade, chads hang, ballots get counted, ballots get recounted, Homestead Air Force Base goes down for the count, Reboredo steps down, musicians strike, Marlins strike out, sewage spills out, oil spills onto beaches, beaches disappear, Cuban ballplayers defect, Cuban doctors defect, Brickell Emporium closes, Body Positive closes, WAMI closes, Hurricane Debby fizzles, Latin music sizzles, cops and drugs, cops and hookers, priests and hookers, educators and hookers, hookers and killers, killer tires, killer trains, killer canals, kids kill, rip currents kill, light poles kill, lobbyists survive, Stiltsville survives, GableStage survives, Margarita Ruiz dies, Wayne Brehm dies, Heberto Padilla dies, Morris Lapidus dies, South Miami locks guns, Carollo gets locked up, insurance rates go up, Cuban politicos get violent, Gables politicos get the boot, Boy Scouts get the boot, traffic clogs, drought persists, Alfonso Sepe goes to jail, Gilda Oliveros goes to jail, Noriega stays in jail, Latin Grammys go, Latin Grammys arrive, City of Miami Lakes arrives, Versace's mansion gets sold, Madonna's mansion gets sold, SoBe nightlife gets old, and just when the magic seems to have vanished from the Magic City, a minor miracle occurs: The address of little Elian's Miami home, 2319, pays $5000 in the Florida lottery.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®