It can be a little difficult to tell if the men indeed are single, since sitting in saunas and baths is an easy excuse to take off that ring. And a certain percentage are going to be tourists, seeing as how this is in a hotel. But a surprising variety of employed, respectable men make their way to Miami's most soporific hot spot on any given evening (days are not recommended as employed, respectable nontourists should not be lounging). The age and ethnic range also is desirable -- all over the place, that is. But what makes the baths a particularly conducive meeting ground? Well, having no choice but to sit side by side in one of the many overheated rooms or the Jacuzzi has a way of forcing conversation. "It wasn't this hot last time I visited." "Oh, do you come here often?" That kind of thing. But more serious talk can, and sometimes does, follow. How ecotourism is a mixed blessing for Ecuador; which hotels are the best bang for your buck in Moscow; what the best waterways are for boating in Miami. The high temperatures have a way of loosening more than leg muscles, and often attitude gets checked at the door as stress and shyness dissipate into the humid air. If you need more loosening, there are white Russians (the drink) in the café. Open every day, noon till midnight. All days are coed.
To succeed in a supporting role, an actress must know her part within the context of the play as well as the character itself, and Tanya Bravo is one local actress who accomplishes this so consistently that her presence on the cast list always ensures an enigmatic evening of drama. She possesses the intensity and stage presence of an actress who always inhabits her character -- be it a punked-out band groupie in Caldwell Theatre's As Bees in Honey Drown, the young-girl version of Ruth in New Theatre's The Book of Ruth, or more recently as Chrysothemis in New Theatre's Electra. As the practical but ultimately vulnerable sister of Electra, Bravo showed her ability to channel conflicting emotions in relatively limited speaking parts. Her control and sharp instinct guarantee that her performance is never diminished by the size of the role she plays.

Government flacks are essential, and not just to disseminate information during emergencies like hurricanes or sewage spills. Good ones help journalists extract key, sometimes incriminating, public records from the bureaucratic maw. Whether they are called public-information officers, media-relations managers, or press agents, the best ones share some common traits: They are briskly efficient, and they understand the news business. Former Miami-Dade Communications Department director Mayco Villafaña set these standards for his staff. Anyone who observed the post-election insanity after the presidential vote witnessed Villafaña's Herculean effort to accommodate the media crush without letting that impede the important work of the elections department. As for Rhonda Barnett, she has never lost sight of the notion that public service means keeping the public interest foremost. Barnett always responds quickly and is never daunted by red tape. She also boasts a dream résumé: a master's degree in library science and a decade of experience as a television news producer in Boston and South Florida, picking up four Emmys along the way. Unfortunately politics and professionalism are uneasy bedfellows at county hall these days. Both Villafaña and Barnett were fired recently.
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.
As Grandma used to say, that Kelly Craig is a hoot. A member of the NBC 6 team since 1990, Craig cohosts the 10:00 a.m. edition of Today in South Florida with Gerri Helfman and Bob Mayer. Although it's an odd hour for a newscast, it does have its own cult following. One of the principal reasons people tune in is Craig's personality, especially her self-deprecating sense of humor. Don't misunderstand us. She still delivers the main news stories in a serious manner, but as the show progresses and the segments become a little lighter in tone, Craig begins to cut loose with Helfman, who often plays Abbott to her Costello, or Ethel to her Lucy. Craig never takes herself too seriously. And most important, she's not afraid to be herself, which is why she has such an easy time connecting with viewers.
True, we renew our licenses only once every six years, but on that fateful day (which, cruelly, comes on our birthday), most of us would rather wake up dead than confront the idea of three hours at the DMV. No more. Thanks to the forward-thinking folks at the division of driver licenses, you can now schedule an appointment at the office nearest you, usually from one day to the next. In and out in about an hour. (What, you expected better?)
What a difference a year makes. Back then Miami-Dade County was snubbing the Latin Grammys. Now Mayor Alex Penelas and Cuban American National Foundation chairman Jorge Mas Santos are rolling out the red carpet for the awards show. Why? Technically it's because a U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively nullified the county ordinance that barred groups that do business with Cuba from using county-owned facilities. But the real reason is simpler: Penelas, Mas Santos, and others in the Cuban-American community finally awakened to the fact that they were losing the public-relations battle for the hearts and minds of the American people. Rather than seeming sympathetic, Cuban Americans were viewed as intolerant, especially following the Elian Gonzalez affair. And Miami, rather than being the vaunted Capital of the Americas, was becoming increasingly isolated. Opening the doors to the Latin Grammys is the first step in a long-overdue effort to reverse that trend.

It's all in the eyes. Those deep, penetrating eyes. You just know that when Bill Kamal says it's going to rain, it will rain. Watching him, you get the feeling he isn't just predicting the weather; he actually can see the weather, the same way a psychic sees the future. How else to explain the fact that he was the youngest meteorologist in the United States to receive the American Meteorological Society Television Seal of Approval for excellence in television presentation? He has been with Channel 7 since 1994 and currently is its chief meteorologist. In his 22-year career he has earned two Emmy Awards. Personally we think he should drop the first name and just go with Kamal. But not simply Kamal. It should be KAMAL! And he should wear a big white turban. And his segments should be backed with a dramatic and mysterious soundtrack. Now that would be exciting television.

It's too easy. That's the problem. Just get online, punch up Amazon.com or bn.com, click the mouse a few times, whip out the credit card, and boom! Any book you want delivered to your door in just a few days. Unfortunately the convenience of online shopping has usually come at the expense of deserving local bookstores. Until now. Books and Books owner Mitchell Kaplan has unveiled a Website that allows Miamians to enjoy online ease while still supporting his store, priceless local institution that it is. Kaplan's site, which operates in partnership with a national network of independent bookstores, retains a neighborhood-bookstore feel. Posted on the Web page are upcoming in-store readings, news of different book clubs and when they meet, and helpful recommendations from his smiling staff, all pictured. And ordering is exactly as easy as at Amazon, with one crucial difference: Home delivery is merely one option. We prefer to pick up our orders in person at the Coral Gables flagship store (delivery also available to the Miami Beach satellite shop). Stacks of books. Brewing coffee. Interesting people. Some pleasures can't be found behind a keyboard.
They are the children of the Cuban exiles who formed modern Miami, and they are among those who will shape the future of the United States. There also is the possibility they will play leading roles in a future Cuba. But regardless of how things shake out in their ancestral home, Garcia and Ugalde are a force to be reckoned with here and now. Garcia, as many in both Miami and Washington, D.C., are aware, is the new executive director and long-time spokesman for the Cuban American National Foundation. He has been active in politics for a good part of his 37 years, and no doubt his political star will continue to ascend. Ugalde, Garcia's wife of nine years, has been less publicly visible though no less accomplished. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard with a law degree from the University of Miami, she served for six years as associate general counsel for UM. This past February she moved into the spotlight when she was named senior advisor to Donna Shalala, the new University of Miami president and former secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®