Best Pint-Size Newsletter 2001 | Urban Forum | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Every successful liberation movement has its printed matter. American patriots rallied support for the U.S. Constitution with the Federalist Papers; students railed against the Vietnam War with rags like the Berkeley Barb; the Sandinistas published Barricada while wearing down the Somoza dictatorship. Here in Miami we have Urban Environment League's Urban Forum. The diminutive gazette (six by eight inches) is cute, but it packs a rhetorical wallop. "Make no mistake about it," wrote attorney and UEL member John de Leon in a 1999 issue, "public property belongs to all of us -- rich, poor, black, white, landowners, and the dispossessed -- and not to some politicians who are trying to sell these properties as a quick fix for the financial mess they may have created." That was an early salvo in a skirmish that grew into the war over the future of Bicentennial Park. When hostilities were in full rage, UEL president Gregory Bush penned this epic prose for the October/November 2000 issue: "If you seek explanations for the progress made in revitalizing the waterfronts of Sydney, Baltimore, Portland, New York, Charleston, Providence, and Seattle ... there appears to be a common thread related to time, courage, and vision. It takes time to forge a consensus behind a coherent plan of action. It takes time to listen to the voices from nearby neighborhoods and to assess the different constituencies throughout the region.... Without a thoughtful and powerful vision, poorly thought-out decisions will predominate." The Forum chronicles other land-use and planning struggles as well, though the civic equivalent of guerrilla warfare sometimes leads to irregular publishing dates. Back issues are available on the group's Website (
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 only invitation you need to this soiree is a big, fat full moon climbing into the night sky. Each month, on the official calendar night of the full moon, an often motley but gentle crew assembles on the sand -- with no central planning and no velvet rope. The crowd can grow as large as 500; 1000 is not unheard of. Over the course of the nighttime hours, the Beach is transformed from a tourist mecca where the self-satisfied lounge to a vibrant, feral gathering. You make your own fun here. There's no bar and no sound system. But inevitably drum circles form, people chant, and dancing erupts spontaneously. Sit in the sand and stare at the ocean. Strike up a conversation with that aging hippie or that sleek young club kid or the bewildered sales rep who stumbled up from the Loews hotel. When was the last time you returned home from a night on South Beach with sand in your shoes, a smile on your face, and money still in your wallet?
Since the object of a first date is getting to know the other person well enough to determine if you like him/her, consider Dave & Buster's the ideal venue. This sprawling 60,000-square-foot entertainment-and-dining complex offers a variety of options for learning about someone else. Consider the Million Dollar Midway, which features more than 200 interactive and virtual-reality games. See just how much that guy really likes to play golf, or exactly how big a princess she is if she won't risk her manicure. Find out if he's sensitive (does he cry when his virtual Corvette crashes?) and see if she's got game (can she swish a basket?). Then move on to one of the countless bars, where you'll discover if your date can hold his/her liquor of if he/she ends up literally being a crashing-off-the-barstool boor. If the date goes smoothly, consider heading for one of several dining areas for a meal. If not, try scanning the Skeeball. No need to bust your chops when there's plenty of pickings at Dave & Buster's.
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.

The dreamer dreams that we are watching his dreams. On the back of the Buick Building in the Design District is a magical diptych by husband-and-wife artist team Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt. The 35-by-50-foot digital print of an original oil painting depicts a man sleeping peacefully in a bed. In the panel next to him is an Angel and Devil box. "In fact he is dreaming, perhaps of who he will be that very day," says Behar with a mischievous laugh. "Am I going to be the good Roberto or the bad Roberto?" The piece was designed to be seen from the westbound lanes of the Julia Tuttle Causeway, a reminder to drivers of the intimate space they've just left behind as they guide their cars to work. Real estate developer Craig Robins commissioned and financed the piece, which went up February 2000. Behar and Marquardt don't really consider the work a mural; they think of it as a two-dimensional sculpture because details from the diptych -- two surreal portraits hanging in the sleeping man's room -- also adorn the front of the building. The artists say that creates a sense of "seeing through the building."
"Are you for real?" asks a caller to The Phil Hendrie Show. "You must be making this up." For Miamians who enjoyed Hendrie's satirical shtick during the two-and-a-half years he broadcast on WIOD-AM (610), the impressionist master's syndicated return this year on WINZ-AM (940) is the best thing to happen to Miami radio since he left, two years ago. Sure there are some changes. Stock characters such as steak house owner Ted Bell made the move west with him. Show-business columnist Margaret Gray no longer hails from Bal Harbour but from Pacific Palisades. (Recently she encouraged abortion as a way to generate fetal tissue that could be used to research a cure for the paralysis that cripples actor Christopher Reeve.) But like fans of a minor-league baseball team, those of us who heard Hendrie hone his act in Miami feel proud of his success and glad that he can now exploit an entire nation of gullible listeners, a never-ending supply of dupes questioning the credibility of, say, the recent guest who claimed to have invented solar power.

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.
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.
"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?"


"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."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®