Opa-locka. Dusk. The parking lot of an abandoned housing project. The potholed lot is empty save the car of a reporter, who has pulled over to take a cell-phone call. Up ahead a round-faced man wearing a black Martin Luther King T-shirt slowly winds toward the car. He is sipping from a longneck bottle of Budweiser. When he reaches the car, he smiles, revealing a bridge of gold teeth.

"Hey man, you live here? Damn that's nice! I'd live here myself if I could. You're on the phone? Oh man, I know what you're doing. I know exactly what you're doing. You're talking to your girlfriend! Your wife doesn't get off work for another hour, so you're talking to your girl. Don't say no, man! Don't tell me you got no wife. I'm smart. Ah, yeah, that's what's happening man.

"Hey man, seriously. Don't be doing that. You got to stop that. Go home to your wife and kids. I know exactly what's going on here. This is what you do: You call your girl tomorrow, you tell her that you've talked to the Lord and he told you this wasn't right, that you've got to go back to your wife, that your kids need you. I'm smart. I'm smart. And I know. Every month you get more bills. Paying for your girl adds up. Then you get another bill, and you say, “Damn, another bill!' Then you have to look at your kids. Man, I'm tellin' you there's nothing worse in the world than to have to look in your kids' eyes and tell 'em you're a deadbeat dad. You hear me? Hang up that phone, brother! I love you. I want you to do the right thing.

"Oh man, my back hurts. You mind if I lean in here a little bit? You see how I walked up here, all slow and all? That's how I know what I'm talking about man, 'cause my wife shot me in the back. Look here, I'll lift up my shirt. Let me just turn around here. You see that? You see the hole? You don't ever want to be denying no child support. Listen to me! You're going to hang up that phone, brother. You're going to do the right thing. I can tell. I know. I'm smart, man. I'm telling you I'm smart. And I know."

Oh, how many, many times have we heard the complaints: You newspaper people only care about bad news. Everything you print is so negative. Why can't you ever write about the good things? How about being uplifting for a change? Well, we are delighted to announce that someone has been listening. Someone who cares. Someone who works at the malevolent Miami Herald, of all places. In his role as the paper's television critic, Terry Jackson can be as viciously snarky as they come. But once a week he parks his mean streak. Every Thursday, in the "Wheels and Waves" section, he pens a column called "Behind the Wheel," in which he test-drives and reviews new automobiles. We have it on good authority that the column represents Jackson's quiet effort to bring some sunshine to the otherwise gloomy pages of Miami's Only Daily -- despite what cynics say about the influence of automobile dealers and their advertising dollars. No, for his determination to utter nary a discouraging word, for his selfless service to the community, Jackson deserves praise and a reprise of some typical headlines from the past twelve months: Luxury in a pickup? The nimble Sierra C3 suspends our disbelief. •Escalade a classy SUV competitor. •Extra-roomy, redesigned Le Sabre gives families alternative to minivans, SUVs. •SC430 convertible coupe is eye-catching. •The new explorer is better in every way: handling and ride vastly improved. •Toyota takes a fun mini-SUV and makes it larger, better. •Nissan aims for cutting edge in reviving the Z. •Interior makes Lexus LS430 a ride in lap of luxury. •Chrysler's minivans improve on success. •Acura's MDX meets demand for luxury SUV. •Volvo's XC: Wagon for a new age. •Fast and stylish, Lexus IS 300 a top performance sedan. •Performance is a plus for redesigned Aurora. •Breakout designs mark a new course for Cadillac. •New SUVs look like performance vehicles. •Pickups keep on truckin' -- new models far from basic. •Going topless is the secret of Pontiac Sunfire's success: fun convertible shows less is more.
All right, so the winner isn't actually in Miami. What's more important -- your children's happiness or simple logistics? Exactly. Drive eighteen miles west of West Palm Beach on State Road 441, and you'll be at Lion Country Safari, where the kids can observe beasts in their nearly natural environment, as opposed to watching out for them in school hallways. When it opened in 1967, the animal park was the United States' first drive-through cageless zoo, a place where you could drive right through into a herd of zebras and cruise by a few rhinoceros as they graze by the side of the road. These are wild animals, though, and you'll have to make sure the little ones don't roll down the windows to get a better look at the lions. In fact if you drive a convertible, the park will insist that you rent a car at the gate. After the kids get restless, you can park and step into Safari World, the walk-through portion of the park. Here's a tip: To catch the animals at their liveliest, get to the park in the morning, before the heat of the day takes its drowsy toll. The park is open 365 days per year, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Last car enters at 4:30. Admission is $15.50 per adult and$10.50 per child, but be sure to check local papers and visitor centers for discount coupons. Lion Country's Website also offers coupons. One more thing: Beware of the ostriches and emus. They have a thing for windshield wipers.
Um, $145 billion. Yeah, that's with a b. That's how much this husband-and-wife team won for their clients in July 2000. The astounding award was the culmination of a seven-year legal battle against the nation's tobacco industry, and it all played out in the Miami courtroom of Judge Robert Kaye. The Rosenblatts' argument was deceptively simple: "My key strategy was to show that these people have knowingly sold ... a product they 100 percent knew will kill a certain number of their customers. And that they didn't give a damn," Stanley told the National Law Journal. The jury bought it. The victory for their estimated 500,000 clients is all the more impressive in light of the fact that these two local advocates faced a veritable army of high-priced attorneys hired by the tobacco giants. Faced them down and kicked their butts.

Baby Huey became the poster child for the Clinton pardon scandal when it was revealed he had received more than $400,000 to work on a pair of clemency petitions, both of which ultimately succeeded. A former public defender, Rodham seemed to spend all eight years of the Clinton administration trying to find ways to cash in on being the First Lady's brother. He ran a laughable campaign for the United States Senate in 1994 and later attempted to become a captain of industry by cornering the hazelnut market through contacts in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. That last venture caused all sorts of problems for the U.S. State Department. But if his prior attempts to exploit his family name were oafish, his profiteering in the pardon scandal was downright obscene, and proved to be a major embarrassment not only for former President Clinton but also for Rodham's sister, Hillary, the newly elected senator for New York, who ordered her brother to return all the money. Perhaps most embarrassing were the television images of Rodham in the days after the scandal broke. He refused to speak to the media, so news footage frequently showed him running back and forth from his car to his house wearing flip-flops, baggy shorts, and a T-shirt that was just a little too tight for his globular frame. Not a pretty picture.

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.
When songwriter Robert "Raven" Kraft made a New Year's resolution in 1975 to jog along the Miami Beach shore every day for a year, he didn't think he'd attract a following. But after 26 years of late-afternoon runs (even through gale-force hurricane winds), and after logging 76,500 miles, the man was bound to get attention. A coterie of locals, old-timers, and snowbirds gathers daily at the Sixth Street lifeguard stand for a casual eight-mile jog with Raven. Dressed in his trademark black running shorts, black headband, and single black glove, Raven leads his pack with a slow, methodical chug. (He reportedly is one of the nation's top "streak runners," people who literally never miss a day of jogging.) Through the years more than 200 individuals, from financiers to corrections officers, have trotted with the man in black. Complete a run and you're part of this quirky gang. Membership is free, plus you'll be christened with a funky nickname such as Tangerine Dream, the Plantain Lady, and Chapter 11.

It was a harrowing fall. Before: Helps lead a successful zoning fight to keep denser housing out of suburban Hialeah Gardens. Touted as first Latina mayor in the United States when elected in 1989. Divorces Angel Ramos, loses seat in 1993, marries Angel Ramos again, becomes mayor again in 1995. Wears miniskirts with blazers.

After: Swept up in storm of anonymous letters accusing her of lascivious, corrupt acts at city hall. Jailed in June 2000 on charges she conspired to kill her ex-husband in order to collect $45,000 in insurance money. Also charged with voter fraud. Convicted a month later and sentenced to four years and eight months in prison. Gov. Jeb Bush removes her from office. Touted as Women's Detention Center inmate No. 0053063. Released on $100,000 bond pending appeal. Denies wearing miniskirts with blazers. Former city employees file a harassment lawsuit against her for lewd and lascivious remarks.

Once she was just another young, attractive woman on South Beach. A student assembling a portfolio at the Miami Ad School, a part-time employee at Books & Books on Lincoln Road. Browsers who even noticed her behind the register probably never realized they were in the presence of "America's Sweetheart," as Bryant Gumbel would soon anoint her. Yet the cutest member of the cast of the first Survivor, the spectacularly popular television show she joined almost by accident, shed her anonymity forever by lasting until the show's final six contestants. An entire nation fell in love with her voice, her spirit, and her fresh look. Suddenly a celebrity, Haskell maintained a healthy attitude about the fame thrust upon her. "All the publicity is a complete joke," she told Detour magazine soon after her island banishment was broadcast, "and I don't know how long this phenomenon is going to continue." Long enough for her to take on an agent, cash in on an endorsement contract with Blistex, and win a role as a love interest in a major Hollywood movie, due out in June. Through it all Haskell appears completely in control of her ride, perfectly sane about the hype, lovelier now than when she left us.
New Yorkers have Miss Liberty towering above their harbor. Washingtonians have the noble Pocahontas perched atop the U.S. Capitol. And Miamians have a 21-foot-tall, virtually naked Tequesta Indian blowing into a conch shell on the grounds of the Three Tequesta Point condominium tower at the mouth of the Miami River. He stands on a nineteen-foot coral-rock pedestal surrounded by palm trees. Historians believe the last Tequesta died in the 1700s from diseases borne by the dreaded Spaniards, but this big bronze one will be impervious to such calamities. Commissioned by the Swire Group, which has developed most of Brickell Key (also known as Claughton Island), the statue, whose Spanish name translates to Sentinel of the River, was created by Cuban-born sculptor Manuel Carbonell and unveiled in July 1999. (Another Tequesta statue by Carbonell adorns the nearby Brickell Avenue bridge.) Our sentinel doubles as an ersatz lighthouse. The conch, which he holds pointed skyward, glows at night. The work is best seen from Biscayne Bay by boat, though it is visible from the northern seawall of the river near the Hotel Inter-Continental.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®