Why do so many sanctimonious people turn out to be wicked? And has there been anyone in public life more sanctimonious than Demetrio Perez? Back in the Eighties, as a Miami City Commissioner, he sought to consecrate the Cuban-exile cause by, among other things, introducing a resolution to have the city honor convicted terrorist Orlando Bosch, handing the violently anti-Castro group Alpha 66 a taxpayer gift of $10,000, and demanding that director Brian De Palma rewrite the script of Scarface to soften its harsh portrayal of Cuban immigrants. Later, as candidates maneuvered for appointment as city manager, he was accused of but never charged with offering to sell his vote for $50,000. As a member of the school board he argued that students should be forced to rise whenever an adult entered their classroom, that the National Guard provide school security, and that uniforms be mandatory at all schools. As a "safety measure" he wanted all students to squeeze through a human cattle chute lined with metal detectors and x-ray machines. Suspension as a form of punishment was ineffective, he argued, and should be replaced with hard labor. All this while lying about where he lived in order to run for his seat on the board. And don't forget his shrill pronouncements against the violence fostered by America's gun culture -- this from a man whose concealed-weapon permit allowed him to pack heat at all times, which he did with relish and without apology. He even was arrested carrying two handguns through a security checkpoint at Miami International Airport. His chain of private Lincoln-Martí schools teach a rigid and hateful form of moral discipline, to which he gleefully subjected little Elian Gonzalez while simultaneously and shamelessly exploiting the boy for publicity purposes. But the end of Perez's long turn on the public stage revealed the depths of his depravity. A rich man, he was caught stealing $18,000 in rent and subsidies from two elderly women who were his tenants. In September he pleaded guilty to five federal criminal charges, but he escaped prison time. Too bad. Some hard labor might have done him good.
Architect B. Kingston Hall designed the Seymour in 1936 for developer Benjamin London, who named it after his son Seymour. Sixty-six years later the tropical Art Deco jewel still stands, nestled in the center of the nation's only historic district composed entirely of twentieth-century structures. But it lives a new life. In keeping with the Miami Beach Community Development Corporation's mission of illuminating the economic viability of historic preservation, the property, acquired in January 1998, underwent a complete renovation and reopened in August 2001. Currently MBCDC headquarters, it also houses a local office of the Florida Department of Children and Families and a one-stop career center for the Hispanic Community Center, plus it plays host to exhibitions and lectures. The Seymour boasts smart touches, including original color schemes such as a gleaming white exterior and forest-green and deep-burgundy lobby, a restored ziggurat fireplace, and tile-and-wood floors in the exhibition space featuring patterns that outline the original floor plan. An exuberant example of Art Deco, the Seymour also accommodates the Urban Arts Committee, a group of concerned citizens passionate about preserving and promoting midcentury Miami modern architecture (MiMO), the Technicolor splendor of which was evident in the Seymour's inaugural art display: "MiMO -- Miami Modern Architecture, 1945-1972: A Photography Exhibit."

We like Don Noe for what he is not. He's not a bumbling grandpa bouncing through the low and high temperatures. Nor is he a slinky siren in a miniskirt relaying the boating conditions in a sweater tight enough to impede speech. He's just a no-nonsense guy, friendly enough but with a reliable weather forecast delivered quickly and without pretense. That's all we ask. Noe is no mere weather reader. He's a certified meteorologist, meaning he knows about the science of weather patterns. Armed with this knowledge, he shines brightest when facing a crisis, such as a hurricane, which fortunately we haven't had in a while. When we do, as we inevitably will, we trust Noe to steer us through it calmly, professionally, and capably.

Reasons the loquacious, pugnacious, and thoroughly informed emcee of Habla el Pueblo (The People Speak) likes his new home at WKAT-AM (1360), Radio Uno: "It's very professional. There's no interference from the management." Compared to, say, WWFE-AM (670), La Poderosa, whose owner canceled Milian's show this past November after the host criticized Miami City Commission candidate Angel Gonzalez. (Gonzalez then paid the station several thousand dollars to use Milian's time slot for campaigning.) Milian had inherited the show on La Poderosa from his father Emilio, whose legs were blown off by a bomb in 1976 after he criticized the violent tactics of anti-Castro extremists. A former Broward County assistant state prosecutor, Milian peppers his aggressive style of public-policy debate with the most elevated put-downs on the Spanish-language AM dial. (Habla el Pueblo airs on WKAT weekdays from noon to 1:00 p.m.) During one show about allegations that Jackson Memorial Hospital is saving money for buildings rather than spending it on suffering patients, Milian offered a characteristically sharp simile: "It's like having money in the bank while your relatives are dying of hunger." He recently upbraided a caller with this: "I came here to live freely, not to live in another dictatorship. The only thing evil needs to triumph is for us to remain silent." Staying quiet is not in Al Milian's program, which he sees as a tool for pounding the moral turpitude out of Miami-Dade's sleazy ancien régime. "We're going to overcome the corrupt bastards," he assures between shows. "I have the sledgehammer."
It's an enormous inverted salad bowl. Or maybe it's headquarters of the Justice League of America, where superheroes Aquaman, Superman, and Wonder Woman gather to hatch world-saving strategies. Actually the distinctive building that distracted you so much you nearly veered off the road is the Aventura Government Center. Dreamed up by Michael A. Schiff & Associates and Arquitectonica, the striking contemporary structure swathed in glass and Indiana limestone features a spectacular sloped rotunda, where elected officials meet to make city policy. Since it opened in May 2001, the 72,000-square-foot marvel, housing all government operations (including the police department) has become what its creators had hoped: a one-stop shop for dealing with city business. And quite the looker as well.

And girlfriend, we do mean personality. Although Mark Moseley did a decent job for years pretending to be queer, Lita lit up the airwaves with tough-as-nails humor only a real big queen could hammer home. Whether dispensing no-nonsense fashion sense to Hialeah hootchies or dishing the dirt on that tacky J-Lo, Lita told it like it is. We don't care if she did write a column for that other weekly. In these sensitive post 9/11 times, who else dared go where Lita went, beyond bad taste to the cavities where the vulgar becomes sublime? Who else could shut up the whole morning crew with tales of playing hide-the-bin-laden in a boyfriend's deep dark caves? We'll miss Lita so.
Like all truly great annual traditions, Lincoln Road's Halloween parade just sort of happened. There is no sponsor, no formal organization, no one in charge. It's simply an outgrowth of the Road's late-Nineties transformation from a deserted strip into one of South Florida's prime people-watching spots. For locals who hardly need a holiday as an excuse to pose for a closeup, showing up in their Halloween costumes has become a no-brainer. Consequently veteran attendees know to stake out a sidewalk café seat early. Order dinner and a few drinks -- by nightfall the pedestrian mall is engulfed with dead Elvises, vampires, and every drag queen within a 50-mile radius -- all strutting their stuff for an appreciative audience. Never has the phrase freak show been so apropos, or so enjoyable.

A lot of South Floridians quietly cheered this past November when Gittens, less than a year into her tenure as Miami-Dade County's aviation director, lambasted the county commission as "lobby heaven," and accused a lobbyist of lying during a presentation. (Carl Hiaasen described MIA at the time Gittens took over in March 2001 as "operating with all the charm and efficiency of a hillside brothel during an earthquake.") Gittens had a history of successfully fighting corruption in her previous job as director of Atlanta's sprawling Hartsfield International Airport. And even though Miami-Dade County Manager Steve Shiver called her on the carpet for her lobbyist outburst, Gittens hasn't stopped telling it like it is at MIA, or working hard for a more equitable and efficient system of awarding contracts.

Ninoska isn't for everyone, but unlike most of her peers in the anti-Castro radio business, she's not a megalomaniac and she isn't using her high-profile platform as much for her own career advancement as for communicating her passionately held beliefs about her homeland. Ninoska is in fact a good communicator and her shows have more flavor than the endless other exile call-in programs, simply because she makes an effort to be in touch with real Cubans, both on and off the island. These days she doesn't do as much of what made her famous -- those often hilarious crank phone calls to Cuba meant to expose the foibles of self-important Communist Party officials and of the system they uphold. But Ninoska, despite a predictably Evil Fidel spin on everything, still manages to be more on top of Cuba-related events and trends than just about any other exile talk-show host anywhere.
Somogyi gets the nod for her droll, inventive Fifties design scheme, in itself a hilarious social critique. From nightmarish polka dots and pony skirts to her big-shouldered suits for the men, the New York designer brought Red Herring an added level of comedy and social commentary. Somogyi has tailored her craft to this era before. She was the one who dressed up Kathleen Turner as Tallulah Bankhead at the Coconut Grove Playhouse and sent us back, through ball gowns, to Forties post-war America.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®