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.
La Experiencia Crankshaft
If right wing Pavel Bure remains the Panthers' superstar, a goal addict forever in search of his next fix, then center Viktor Kozlov serves as his pusher. Kozlov, who skates with Bure on the team's number one line, feeds a steady supply of dazzling passes toward his Russian countryman. Kozlov is the best stick handler in the league. The attention defenders must give to his powerful wrist shot creates opportunities Bure is skilled at exploiting. Not that Kozlov can't score on his own; during the 1999-2000 season, he set personal bests in goals, assists, and points. A nagging shoulder injury kept his numbers down this season, but when he's healthy and in the lineup, he, Bure, and the rest of the team all play at their best.
The past year has provided uplifting proof that there is no shortage of locals willing to risk their lives to help others in a uniquely South Florida jam: rescuing people who have driven off the road into a canal. Remember these heroes next time you hear someone badmouthing Miami and its rude citizens.

•November 4, 2000: Four Miami-Dade police officers -- Eduardo Garcia, Will Sanchez, Pedro Polo, and James McDonnell -- dived into a canal at SW Seventh Street and 122nd Avenue to rescue a nineteen-year-old woman trapped in her sinking Nissan. The car was submerged when the officers reached it. "She had been holding her breath, and by the time we'd gotten there she was on her last breath," Garcia told the Miami Herald.

•December 7, 2000: Off-duty Hialeah police Lt. Joe DeJesus jumped into a canal on Griffin Road in Broward at 11:00 p.m. to rescue a woman whose van had veered off the road. She was unhurt.

•January 12, 2001: Hialeah residents Jim Gentilesco, Jr., and Rene Abreu jumped into a canal at West 44th Place and Fourth Avenue when they saw a 40-year-old woman's car slip into the water.

•January 14, 2001: Hans Schaefer, Eduardo Suarez, and his father, Eduardo Suarez, Sr., swam to the bottom of a murky canal off NW 137th Avenue and 104th Street to reach a woman whose car had plunged into the water.

Best Spanish-Language Radio Personality

Matias Farias

Miami's Spanish-language talk radio all too often suffers from a conformity that ill serves listeners, and from analysis that could more accurately be described as propaganda. For these reasons Col. Matias Farias's shows on weekday mornings and Thursday evenings are so refreshing. Where else on Spanish-language radio could one hear Commissioner Jimmy Morales dissect the Marlins stadium deal or listen in to frank talk about who will really benefit from the Latin Grammys coming to Miami? Farias's life is the stuff of novels. He escaped Cuba in a stolen crop-duster. After the failure of the Bay of Pigs, he joined the U.S. Air Force. He served in Vietnam and Laos, teaching military intelligence. While with the Southern Command in Panama he struck up a friendship with Gen. Manuel Noriega. Farias retired from the air force a full colonel in 1990. In addition to his radio duties, he consults on political campaigns both here and abroad. When this background comes to bear on political events in Miami, the result is an insight on which listeners have to come to rely.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®