This past November, when Delfin Gonzalez announced he had bought the modest Little Havana home where Elian stayed, and that he planned on turning it into a shrine, some people thought it would only serve to perpetuate -- even institutionalize -- the tensions that had split the community into warring factions. But that evening, when the winning numbers came up on the Florida lottery, even skeptics had to pause. Maybe the kid does have some kind of supernatural powers after all. The Cash Four drawing paid off $5000 to 192 players who picked the numbers 2319. The Cash Three drawing paid $500 to 913 people who picked 023. Even the number of people who won were combinations of Elian's address. Now what was that story about dolphins saving the boy's life?
This year Ray Lockhart proved that maybe you can trick the Devil, but you can't fool an audience. As Lem, the man who murdered Robert Johnson, Lockhart was not only pivotal to the play's denouement but also essential to the emotional chemistry onstage. Portraying a long-absent and embittered husband, Lockhart filled M Ensemble's tiny set with the emotional intensity and stage presence of a man who has spent the past few years splitting rocks and returns to find his wife bedding down with a handsome, mysterious stranger. Lockhart's raw physicality and confident stage presence elevated the quality of this drama immensely, without overshadowing the rest of the cast. Finding the balance between rage and passion, this quarry worker turned out to be the gem in this bitter tragedy.

Theatergoers found a lot of reasons to dislike Paul Tei this season. He played a cold-blooded child killer in New Theatre's Never the Sinner and a hot-blooded serial killer in GableStage's Popcorn. But he is so good at being bad that you can't really hold it against him. Tei is the kind of actor who looks at a role not only as an opportunity to perform but also as an opportunity to create a role. Consequently he can portray several different degenerates, and his performances never overlap. As Wayne, the gun-toting redneck in Popcorn, Tei kept us riveted to our seats -- appalled and laughing. As Richard Loeb, a wealthy young Chicago man who, along with his lover, kills a young boy on a Nietzsche-inspired whim, he was equally appalling. But Tei never let audiences simply dislike his characters. With his willingness to take risks and push the boundaries of character definition, he could make Ted Bundy funny. For example, in Never the Sinner, he dared to play this insolent, arrogant murderer as childlike and capricious -- clubbing a kid in the head one moment and going out for hot dogs the next. Tei's topnotch acting transformed these two good plays into excellent ones.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®