We know what you're going to say: Robert's is not a true farmers market. A splendidly eclectic fruit stand/reptile show/folk revue perhaps. What, you'll ask, about the Coconut Grove farmers market? Or the one outside Gardner's Market in Pinecrest? Fine. But this is our list and this year we're picking Robert Is Here. Yes, it's partly about the exotic fruit milkshakes, which are divine. But Robert Moehling and his crew have so much more to offer. In the fruit-and-vegetable department, for instance, just about everything grown in South Miami-Dade. In season there's U-pick strawberries. Plus live bees in a glass-enclosed honeycomb, every type of honey and preserve known to man, countless pepper and barbecue sauces, key-lime-infused chocolate-covered coconut squares, and many touristy trinkets. Out back is a large pen filled with giant tortoises and iguanas. There's also a one-man band playing in the corner on Saturdays. This is a place where you can truly eat, drink, and be merry.
When Major League Soccer finally catches on in the United States, the decision to fold the Miami Fusion will make America's most apathetic sports town look even more stupid, as if that were possible. (Hello? The Dolphins couldn't sell out a playoff game?) Soccer is followed with feverish fanaticism throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. South Florida has a huge and ever-growing population of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. You do the math. Bad management and inept marketing -- not a starless team with a lousy playoff record -- led to this humiliating loss. But nature hates a vacuum. Professional soccer will return to Miami. It is inevitable.

From the Miami Herald, Thursday, December 20, 2001: "On Sept. 23, 2000, The Herald published a story about a house donated to the Fort Lauderdale Branch NAACP. It included information provided by Hansel Williams, who was interviewed at the house, that is not correct. Williams subsequently said he is not married, has no children, did not live in the house rent-free and that his grandmother did not live there with him."

The seasoned cats who preside over Jazz in the Afternoon play all the cool hits. You know: Kind of Blue, Giant Steps, A Love Supreme (the whole blessed album). This is noncommercial (and unlicensed, meaning "pirate") community radio as it was meant to be. These guardians of the bebop, hard-bop, and post-bop jazz flames liberate the airwaves on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. One way to make a good thing even better would be to extend the holy sounds of Miles, Trane, and Dolphy into weekday evenings, currently the domain of an emcee who preaches to us about things we already know regarding the current state of slavery in America.

Miami has no mountains. There are no hills, buttes, or mesas. But there are clouds, and they appear almost daily on the big palette that is South Florida's sky. Our cosmic placement at the tip of a peninsula located to the east of the Gulf of Mexico, north of the Caribbean Sea, and downwind of the jet stream puts us at the crossroads of breezes and moisture that can produce spectacular celestial works. High up are the thin, wispy cirrus clouds, delicate free-form brush strokes of white that flow and curl against the blue of eternity. In the foreground on a fair day the cumulus play, those billowy shape-shifters, puffing effortlessly by on the breeze. Here are our mountains, inspiring and variable, and our view is unobstructed.

From the Miami Herald, Wednesday, October 24, 2001: "A story in Friday's editions referred to the Batman costume Elian Gonzalez wore at Halloween. Elian arrived in the United States in November and left in June, so he did not wear the costume at Halloween."

Hard Rock Cafe
Before finding happiness in a warm gun, the Beatles found a buddy in a Miami Beach cop. Sgt. Buddy Dresner was assigned to provide security to the Beatles during the group's South Florida invasion in February 1964. The Hard Rock Café has no photos of the screaming female mob that besieged the boys when they descended from their rooms for a dip at the Deauville Hotel pool. But there are shots of them at Dresner's house, where Mrs. Dresner served a nice dinner and Paul read to the couple's children. Back in London several months after the two-week February tour, Paul scrawled a letter to Dresner apologizing for not writing sooner. "I lost your address. I've only just got it again -- from George," he wrote. "We'll be out [again] in America soon. That's if they don't start a war or something. For instance, all this business in Vietnam." (The Beatles indeed invaded the States again in late August, as the U.S. military presence grew and grew in Southeast Asia.) Other historic scrawlings appear on a work of abstract art the Fab Four signed and shipped to Dresner after the February visit. The drawing (by one D. Spence) consists of four splotches of black ink dripping to the bottom of a piece of brown paper. On it one can observe hints of the psychedelic wordplay John later embraced: "To good old Buddy, what is our Buddy, good Bubby (get a job Buddy), all the best and thanks from me." In a separate letter Brian Sommerville, the group's agent, penned a sentiment about our subtropical burgh that many still find apt. "I'll never forget that wonderful place and its people," he wrote.
On South Beach attending and critiquing over-the-top parties isn't just a leisure activity, it's a way of life. And for local fashionistas, one of the most anticipated fetes is Ocean Drive's annual birthday bash, where the magazine's glossy pages, chock full of beautiful people, come to life. Even the Herald bought into the hype this past year, giving the Loews Hotel-hosted party front-page coverage, and in light of the hordes of would-be crashers lauding it as the season's most coveted invite. Once inside, however, a different truth emerged. Yes, there were the requisite flocks of aspiring models trucked in by their agencies, and a smattering of celebs were coaxed to the shindig by Ocean Drive's wunderkind publisher. But the overall vibe was less fabulous than bar mitzvah: serving stations of food, well-mannered members of the tribe schmoozing away, and a DJ spinning an early-Eighties playlist that stopped just short of Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" -- the usual cue for a hora circle. Only the writhing, half-naked "living sculptures" added a welcome touch of Beach tackiness, reminding everyone this wasn't a post-synagogue affair.

A unique confluence of ugly events led the citizens of Miami to overwhelmingly approve the creation of a Civilian Investigative Panel in November 2001. Leaders and activists in black communities, enraged over the alarming tendency of police to shoot suspects dead even when they were in wheelchairs, had long insisted that someone other than cops should investigate cops. But it took Cuban-American outrage over beatings and questionable arrests during the April 2000 Elian Gonzalez riots to provide the critical mass needed to put the idea to a citywide vote. After that it was groups such as Brothers of the Same Mind and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE), along with the legal expertise of the American Civil Liberties Union, that kept the flame blazing. CIP members, when the slow-turning wheels of Miami city government finally get around to appointing them, will be able to subpoena witnesses and recommend penalties to the police department.
For its first 43 blocks, narrow little Collins Avenue is at best an inconvenient way to get around Miami Beach. At 44th Street, however, it widens to six lanes, becoming one of South Florida's premier boulevards, a show street lined with fancy and famous hotels, luxury condos, palm trees, and private yachts. This also marks the exact location where South Florida's true character is revealed, for this is where automobile-industry magnate Harvey Firestone built his magnificent Georgian Colonial mansion. Lured by the warm winter weather and the phantasmagoric hype of Miami Beach hucksters Carl Fisher and John Collins, Firestone and other American tycoons scooped up oceanfront property (Firestone's estate encompassed fourteen acres) and erected ostentatious monuments to capitalist wealth. By the Roaring Twenties this stretch of Collins Avenue boasted some of the most audacious private homes south of New York. But Miami Beach was really nothing more than a shifting sandbar, and the alluring vision of South Florida as a land of boundless opportunity under the bright subtropical sun was as illusory as the mythical landscapes that decorated crates of oranges heading to the frozen north. So it was fitting that Harvey Firestone's dream home should be demolished to make way, in 1954, for another dreamscape, the Fontainebleau hotel. Thus began another chapter in the life of this section of Collins Avenue. As the mansions went down, the fantastical hotels went up, followed by the towering condominiums that isolated bay from ocean and man from nature. From inhospitable, mosquito-infested mangroves to concrete canyons in the bat of an eye. It's magic. It's what Miami is all about. And it's all there in this nine-block-long postcard.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®